U.S. CONVICT HELD FOR FRAUD IN PALAU

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Dugan considered flight risk

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Nov. 2, 2009) – James Otho Harrison Dugan had prior convictions including aggravated assault and wire transfer fraud in the Unites States, a court document stated.

In the court order of Associate Justice Alexandra Foster dated October 23, she stated in her order that Dugan who is now facing multiple charges for attempted grand larceny and money laundering appeared to have criminal history in the US and was incarcerated in 2007.

In the government’s opposition to Dugan’s motion to reconsider his cash bond, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Ledgerwood stated that Dugan is a flight risk and owns a private airplane in the Philippines.

The government also stated that Dugan is a subject of an ongoing investigation in the US based on this money laundering transaction.

Dugan is now facing 39 counts of charges that included money laundering.

He was arrested on October 21 while at the Palau International Airport while he was about to depart the country.

Patrol Division Chief Ismael Aguon served the arrest warrant to Dugan at 5:55 pm on Wednesday for multiple criminal charges including forgery, attempted cheating, attempted grand larceny and money laundering.

Dugan was brought to the court on Thursday afternoon for bail hearing before Associate Justice Alexandra Foster.

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Ledgerwood who is prosecuting the case recommended that bail cash would be $200,000.

Dugan who was represented by Public Defender Jason Shaw was not able to post bail so he was remanded into custody.

The affidavit of probable cause of Patrol Division Chief Ismael Aguon stated that he was requested by the Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate a financial crime in Palau allegedly conducted by Dugan.

The affidavit filed in court stated that the General Manager of First Commercial Bank Palau Branch identified as Jing Fang Hwang sought assistance after he became suspicious of Dugan’s transactions because of the very large amount of money, Five Billion Euros per certificate of deposit which is about $7.5 Billion each.

The document stated that Hwang became suspicious when Dugan insisted on a signed "in-ward" remittance guide letter.

According to the affidavit, Dugan came to the bank to see Hwang on October 20 and the defendant was accompanied by Senator Mlib TMetuchl, Lucius Malsol and First Fidelity Bank Manager Maria Louis D. Gomez.

In that meeting, Dugan asked Hwang to provide him the bank’s swift code number to assist them to transfer money to Palau.

Hwang provided them an "in-ward remittance guidance letter.

The document stated that according to Dugan, the money would be used to build a dock for the Navy.

Dugan presented Hwang five certificates of deposit which amounted each Five billion Euros or $7.5 Billion.

The affidavit stated that a financial transaction for the amount of 15 Billion Euros or $22.5 Billion has been completed and is to be charged against First Community Bank Palau Branch of First Fidelity Bank.

The document added that Dugan had brought his plan to Lucios Malsol and then to Senator Tmetuchl and they had accompanied Dugan for the rest of the transactions.

The affidavit stated that investigation is continuing and ongoing.

The document added that Dugan has history of convictions for violent felonies and financial crimes.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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