Former Angaur governor Marvin Ngirutang pled not guilty to charges filed against him by the Office of Special Prosecutor for various violations including Misconduct in Public Office, Theft of Government Funds and Code of Ethics Violations.
Attending the hearing with him yesterday to show support were some of the Angaur traditional leaders such as Obak Andres Ucherbelau, Midchuls Moses Uludong, Adelbai Jackson Henry, and Senator Regis Akitaya.
The charges stemmed from the audit reports on the repair of Angaur State boat Regina IV. National government had appropriated $500,000 for the repair of Regina IV and authorized Angaur governor to implement the project. According to the public auditor’s report, the funds were strictly to be used for the repair or replacement of the Regina IV.
According to report findings, about $64K were expended for travel and other services that do not fit under the definition of the law which it said for repair or replacement of the boat.
The charges allege that funds were expended to pay for travel and per diem for the members of Angaur Transportation Commission, some of the members of Angaur leadership and Regina IV’s captain and engineer to the Philippines and back. Furthermore, there were no supporting documents for the expenditures such as boarding passes, trip reports, receipts, invoices and such to document the travel.
The charges also alleged that some funds were also expended for other expenses not related to Regina IV repair such as payment of store credits in Koror.
When reached for comments, former governor Ngirutang said that the expenditure of funds for the members of the Commission and Regina IV staffs to the Philippines and payment to the technical advisor were reviewed by their treasurer and attorney prior to his approval. He did say that it was difficult to obtain receipts and reports after the people returned trips.
He said for other expenditures not related, it was a practice for the State to use available cash from other projects to pay certain expenditures when block grants payments are delayed and those funds are reimbursed after the block grant payments are received.
“I believed that when I authorized the payment, that it was legitimate. When audit report said it wasn’t proper, I offered to pay back the funds myself,” expressed former governor Ngirutang.
The next conference hearing date is set to January 18th, 2021.