Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps filed a motion in court in May for an order to show cause as to why former President Tommy Remengesau Jr. non-payment of fines “should not be treated as contumacious” or refusal to follow court order.
In her motion, Special Prosecutor Cripps alleged that former president had only paid $11,150 of the $156,400 fine he was order to pay after the Appellate decision was issued in 2011.
SP Cripps asserts that TR owed the $145,250 and has no reason not to pay the court judgment and that refusal to pay “should be treated as contumacious” or willful disregard of the authority.
Former President through his attorney filed a motion for “revocation of unpaid portion of the fine” pending a review, that the fine imposed “is unconstitutional and excessive pursuant to Article IV, Section 10 of the Republic of Palau Constitution.”
In a statement filed with motion, former president said stated “My intent is not to disobey the order of the court. Rather, my intent is to ensure that the fine imposed in this case is just and fair. I am not disputing having to pay the fine. I am disputing the total amount of the fine to be paid.”
Former president was charged in 2009 for failure to report certain properties in 2002 and 2003 in his filing with Code of Ethics. Trial court convicted him on 10 counts and fined him $156,000 which is 2002 valuation of the undisclosed properties.
The case was appealed and the Appellate Court affirmed 2 counts and vacated the rest. Quoting the Appellate court, “As to the first argument, the Republic concedes that the five counts comprising the failures to disclose in the 2002 disclosure statement, and the five counts corresponding to the 2003 disclosure statement are each just one violation of 33 PNC §605 (c) (5). Each of the counts arises under the same statute and corresponds to only two disclosure statements. (Defendant) Remengesau Jr. correctly points out that the purpose of the law is to ensure that one disclosure statement is filled out properly every year and that the statute does not explicitly state that each failure to disclose constitutes a separate offense. Thus the convictions for Counts 7,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,17 and 18 are multiplicitous and constitute two, not ten, violations. We therefore select count 7 and 13 to remain intact and vacate the remaining convictions.”
He argued that $156,000 penalty imposed by the Trial Court is not proportionate to the 2 convictions affirmed by the Appellate Court and asked the court to revoke the unpaid portion.
SP argued that the Appellate Court affirmed 2, vacated and remanded the rest of the convictions, but it did not change Trial Division’s conclusion and penalty.
SP noted the footnote in the Appellate decision which stated, “For the sake of simplicity, we selected Counts 7 and 13 because they were the first counts corresponding with each financial statement. Although the court could have vacated and remanded the convictions, the Trial Division’s ultimate conclusion and penalty would remain unchanged given that the court did not impose a “per violation” penalty.” (By: L.N. Reklai)

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