PALAU LAWMAKER SUED FOR THEFT OF FUNDS

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, June 5) — A civil action suit was filed against former Palau Delegate Elia Tulop for spending public funds for private use.

According to the five-page complaint, starting in 1996 through 2000, Tulop received a monthly lump sum payments from the national treasury in the amount of US$1,000 as official expense.

In the complaint, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said it is seeking judgment against Tulop in an amount equal to all contingency funds paid to the defendant and expenditures paid by the national treasury for travel expenses that served no governmental or public purpose.

The contingency fund for expenses incurred in the discharge of Tulop’s official duties exceeded the $1,000 per month allowed, the complaint stated.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor also charged that the contingency fund constituted unlawful compensation.

The office said Tulop made expenditures that did not relate or result from the discharge of the then-lawmaker’s official duties and were converted for the private use and benefit of the defendant.

Tulop is liable for the repayment of all contingency funds not actually expended in the discharge of official duties, the special prosecutor said.

Tulop was also charged with fraud for reportedly misrepresenting that the funds were spent in the discharge of official duties when they were spent for personal purposes.

According to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Tulop, "intentionally made these misrepresentations with the intent to defraud the government and with the intent that the government would rely upon the defendant’s misrepresentations and that the government relied on the misrepresentations to its detriment and paid the defendant all amounts claimed in his false travel vouchers."

Tulop was likewise charged with Code of Ethics violation for using government funds, including for travel expenses, for private activities.

The portion of Tulop’s travel expenses did not relate nor result from the discharge of the defendant’s official duties and that the funds were converted for private use and benefit of the defendant, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said.

The office is seeking civil penalties of up to $10,000 and $2,500 for each of the separate violations and punitive damages in the amount of $100,000.

June 5, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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