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Calls Allegation of $200,000 contribution ‘rubbish’

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, Sept. 1, 2010) - President Johnson Toribiong denied reports he received a US$200,000 foreign contribution for his presidential election campaign from the controversial United Kingdom Investment Holdings Inc. (UKIHL) and dismissed it as a ploy to involve him in a controversy between the firm and a company it allegedly duped.

Toribiong branded the purported letter of UKIHL owner Morris Davidson to Terry Griffiths, Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Investment Properties Limited, a UK-based company which UKIHL allegedly scammed of millions of money "as rubbish."

He however would not order a probe on the matter saying the issue is between Davidson and Griffith.

"It is not true, it’s rubbish, I didn’t receive money at all," Toribiong told reporters.

The president said he is unaware of the motive behind the letter’s circulation but that the issue should be put to an end because "the letter doesn’t even carry any weight against me."

The president said the letter can be a fabrication who earlier appointed Davidson as Palau’s honorary consul to Malaysia.

He also told reporters that Davidson could also been using his name to obtain money from investors or it could also have been fabricated by those who are against him.

"This is very entertaining, those that are against me must be salivating," the president said.

Sen. Raynold Oilouch is looking into the allegation.

According to the law, "it shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or through any other person to make any contribution in connection with an election to any national or state elective office, or in connection with any convention or caucus to select candidates for any national or state elective office or in support of or in opposition to any national or state ballot measure; or for any person, including any candidate, to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national."

Griffiths in an email message to Horizon said, "I can confirm that the letters you have received are authentic true documents."

Toribiong said that if Griffiths would want to talk to him regarding the issue then he is willing to sit down with him and discuss the matter.

Griffiths was in Palau in May and tried to seek an audience with Toribiong. The president however did not meet with him.

Griffiths also provided a copy of his letter to Minister Jackson Ngiraingas.

Ngiraingas who was then the Peleliu governor and supporter of UKIHL was also accused of receiving campaign contribution.

"We are not in the business of falsifying documents or are we in the IT business, we are in the construction business as you know, that is why we first got involved with the Angaur project and if the Palau government had done there due diligence in checking the status and the finances of UKIHL we would not of lost US$840,000. We have a duty to our investors and shareholders to pursue this matter and I will for as long as it takes," Griffiths said in the letter.

I fully expected Johnson Toribiong to deny that he had received any money from Morris, I don’t know how much he actually received but by the very fact that he supports Morris and UKIHL points to the fact that he must have received some money so no matter what he says he is guilty of association," Griffiths stated.

The UKIHL has a pending application before the Foreign Investment Board (FIB).

Several sectors have urged the president to reject the project.

Toribiong added that he is not involved with UKIHL. He however has not explicitly rejected the project despite the controversy.

"Let the FIB decide, I have nothing to hide," he said.

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