On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Associate Justice Lourdes Materne of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau, Trial Division, denied Defendant Ellender Ngirameketii’s ‘Motion to Strike. The defense argued the Court Order freezing Defendant Ngirameketii’s assets held at the Bank of Hawaii should be voided. However, the Court found on behalf of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and denied Defendant’s motion, leaving the Court’s previous July 2019 Order in place, which froze Defendant’s assets pending criminal forfeiture.
The Court’s ruling made the following findings: (a) the Court has jurisdiction over the Defendant and therefore over defendant’s assets deposited at the Bank of Hawaii; (b) the Special Prosecutor is authorized by law to seize assets subject to criminal forfeiture under the Criminal Forfeiture Act; and, (c) the Court’s original July 2019 Order was a valid injunction. The Court previously “ordered the Bank of Hawaii to prohibit transactions with respect to the Defendant’s relevant accounts” until the termination of the criminal proceedings. Only upon conviction can criminal forfeiture occur.
Meanwhile, the Defendant’s accounts affected by the Court’s order are secure and continue to accrue interest while the criminal case is pending.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Jacob Gordin argued the Republic’s response to Defendant’s Motion to Strike.