Koror, Palau – On Monday, May 24, 2021, Presiding Justice Kathleen M. Salii of the Palau Supreme Court Trial Division sentenced Barbara Tulop and Shirley Tulop in Criminal Case No. 20-084. The former sentence in this case was vacated by the Appellate Division’s decision which reversed one of the nine criminal violations for which Defendant Barbara Tulop was found guilty. The Appellate Division also vacated Defendant Shirley Tulop’s sentence to correct a clerical error which convicted the Defendant with an extra count for which she was not charged.

The original sentence applied a per-violation assessment of punishment for the Defendants in the case, therefore fines and probation for the remaining counts had already been allocated as separate violations warranting independent punishments from the reversed count. Nevertheless, the Court used its opportunity to reassess its original sentence in a new light.

In Court, the Republic argued that the Appellate Division’s interpretation of the Code of Ethics did not change the fact that Barbara Tulop perpetrated a scheme to hide her personal business and commit tax evasion nor did the decision absolve the Defendant of wrongdoing. The Defense Attorneys argued that the Tulop family had already paid for their crimes through the stress of the criminal justice process and asked the Court for leniency.

Balancing these considerations, Justice Salii issued a new sentence which fined Barbara Tulop $1,000 and gave both Defendants one year of probation from the date of the original sentence, September 3, 2020.

Once again, the Republic defended its position to pursue criminal charges. As both the Trial and Appellate Division agreed, this decision rests within the discretion of the prosecution. The OSP filed criminal charges against Ms. Barbara Tulop because she is a Director at the Foreign investment Board with a background in finance and accounting. The FIB is responsible for issuing business licenses and making sure that foreign companies obey the rules and regulations for businesses in Palau. As a Director, Barbara Tulop’s illegal operation of an unlicensed business was seen as hypocrisy rising to the level of criminal misconduct. Due to her experience working as an accountant for the National Treasury, Ms. Tulop could not credibly claim that her tax evasion was due to a lack of knowledge or inexperience. The OSP stands by its decision to file criminal charges in this matter.

A digital copy of the Trial Division’s Sentencing Order can be found at Palauosp.org. Please visit this website for updates on all future OSP prosecutions and other OSP updates.

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