Palau map showing Ngardmau State where Palau's only Free Trade Zone is situated.

The Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) closed the case on Ngardmau Waterfall Account with warnings issued to the State against the practice of “borrowing” funds from the account by State and non-state employees.  Special Prosecutor elected to publish the results of the case as reminder and warning to all the States that misuse of government funds and equipment violates the law.

According to information from the Office of Special Prosecutor, complaints were made that funds collected from visitors to the Ngardmau Waterfall were being misused.

Based on OSP’s investigations, as far back as 2006, there has been allegations of state government personnel and some private individuals “borrowing” money from the fund with intention of paying the fund back later.

The monies borrowed overtime became a large deficit for Ngardmau State with no repayment expected.

In the report, the Office of Special Prosecutor said that extensive investigation into record keeping of the Ngardmau Waterfall account was challenging with many missing documents, “severely incomplete” records, and deposits that didn’t match collections.

Under investigation, some of the people interviewed admit to borrowing funds themselves but would not name any others.  After one of the person involved in the record keeping passed away, no records of the account “borrowing” system could be found.

The amount claimed to be missing exceeded $13,500. Ngardmau Governor sought to claim the missing money from the family of deceased and the family paid the money but questioned the payment when no evidence showed that the deceased took all the money.

Ngardmau Legislature appropriated the money to pay back the deceased family, which was withheld by Governor citing that the case was under investigation by the Office of Special Prosecutor.  The legislature appropriated funds again to reimburse the family and it was finally paid to the family after the Office of the Special Prosecutor completed its investigations.

OSP met with Ngardmau Governor Johnston B. Ilenglkei and the legislature to discuss the case and the difficulty with prosecution due to poor record keeping.

They agreed to closing the case but with conditions.  The conditions were, a letter will be given to each state employee and members of the legislature that it is unlawful to “borrow” money from the government; the letter would be made public as learning tool for all the States so this practice of “borrowing” does not occur or continue; the appropriation will be implemented by the governor and the family of deceased will be paid back; and the governor will share monthly receipts and deposits of the Ngardmau Waterfall account with OSP for a year to ensure that the practice of “borrowing” stops and the account is maintained for the benefit of the people of Ngardmau State.

The resolution was accepted by the Governor of Ngarmau State and its Legislature.

“I hope this resolution and its publication will aid in that endeavor, help prevent future violations, and promote healthier democracy through increased knowledge and involvement by the Palauan citizens,” stated Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps.