HONOLULU — Three former executives of a Hawaii-based defense contractor pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of funneling more than $200,000 in illegal donations to aid the reelection campaign of Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Navatek CEO Martin Kao and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins are shown at a 2019 announcement of an $8 million Navy contract. Photo courtesy of Sen. Susan Collins’ office

Former Navatek CEO Martin Kao and two others were indicted this month on charges of using company credit cards, a shell company and individual shell donors to make illegal contributions.

Federal contractors are prohibited from making campaign contributions.

The indictment did not mention Collins by name and did not cite any violations by her campaign.

Her campaign has said there are no allegations of wrongdoing by the Collins for Senator campaign and the campaign had no knowledge of the allegations until a search warrant was reported in the media.

During a video hearing Wednesday before a U.S. judge in Washington, D.C., Kao, Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee and Clifford Chen pleaded not guilty.

The three are no longer part of the marine engineering company, which changed its name to Martin Defense Group in 2020.

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