Representatives of Ochedruchei clan of Angaur State, Obil-Teluk Kamillia Elechesel Kazuo Holder, and Adelbai Romson Julio filed a civil suit against Vice President Raynold Oilouch in his individual capacity as well as his official capacity as Vice President for fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, detrimental reliance, and negligent misrepresentation.
The case stemmed from a land lease agreement between Ochedruchei Clan, Children of Orrenges Thomas and the government for the United States Aerial Domain Awareness (ADA) program for use of radar sites and radio towers.
In the suit, the representatives of the Ochedruchei clan claim that Vice President Oilouch knew and concealed the actual size of the clan land to be used for the US ADA project until the final lease agreement was presented for the signature of then Obil-Teluk Sophia Lei Kaiich of Ochedruchei clan. She said she had no choice but to sign the agreement due to her need to return to the States for her medical treatment. Suit further states that none of the lease agreements provided included the accurate map until the final lease agreement and that decisions she relied on to sign the Stipulated Lease Agreement was misrepresented and resulted in “truly inequitable distribution of proceeds from the Stipulated Lease Agreement”.
Furthermore, the suit claims that Oilouch in the previous case drafted the quit claim deed giving away Ochedruchei clan lands to the Children of Orrenges Thomas and claimed that Oilouch breached his duty of care to obtain Ochedruchei clan’s “consent to represent the Republic of Palau in negotiating against Ochedurei clan.”
Vice President Raynold Oilouch in response expressed his indignation saying, “this lawsuit has no merit and it is ruining my name as a lawyer and it is done in bad faith. I believe it will be dismissed and I think it merits a countersuit.”
According to Oilouch, the US government on their own identified the sites that they wanted and had Palau government negotiate for them.
“I did not deal directly with the claimants but with their attorneys. The area in question was disputed by the two parties, Ochedruchei clan and Children of Orrenges Thomas. Their case dragged in court for almost a year. We waited for them to settle their claims before we negotiated with them. They had a choice to continue their case to trial but decided to settle a case between themselves. After they settled their case, a judgment was issued a base on their settlement. That is when we talked to both sides through their attorneys,” stated VP Oilouch.
Regarding the size of the lot, Oilouch said that the US military presented initial sketch and size but that was not confirmed until after the settlement of the land between the two claimants
According to the case filed against Oilouch, it said Oilouch sent the final Lease Agreement with a map showing the ADA site of 163,430 at $16 per square meter for 25 years. It said that Ochedruchei entered into Stipulation with the understanding that the total amount of the proceeds will be $2.6 million with Ochedurchei receiving $1 million while Children of Orrenges receive the remaining $1.6 million.
The suit further alleges that Oilouch informed Ochedruchei that the United States had not finalized the ADA site area until after the court’s approval of the Stipulation. The final map provided after the court approved Stipulation was 271,807 square meters, amounting to $4,348,912 million dollars.
The allegations state that “in shock at being presented with critical information at late juncture, being pressured to sign the lease by the Republic after already having delayed her return to the US for cancer treatment, and bound by stipulation filed by both parties, Obil-Teluk Sophia Lei Kaiich signed the Stipulated Lease Agreement on behalf of Ochedruchei clan.”
Vice President Oilouchdisputed the information saying that he not spoken directly with Obil-Teluk of Ochedruchei clan but met with lawyers of both sides in his office. He further added that it was not him but the attorney of Ochedruchei that was rushing the agreement signing for their client.
“The two claimants have to settle the land ownership contest between them first before the government can negotiate with owners. Once they reached a settlement between them and the judge approved that settlement, then we came in to negotiate. The amount of money they received is based on the size of the land they agreed to in their settlement. Government has nothing to do with that,” stated Oilouch.
“These same issues were raised by Ochedruchei’s clan lawsuit filed after the lease agreement was signed and the Trial Court denied all claims. They had filed an appeal and the appellate decision on these same concerns is pending,” added Oilouch.
“The exact size and location of the area wanted by the United States for ADA are not always confirmed immediately. For example, in Ngaraard, after we start to negotiate with landowners for the lot that the US had identified, the US changed its mind on the size and location, so we are back to negotiating with landowners. This was explained to attorneys from both sides of the Angaur land but maybe Ochedruchei’s attorney failed to properly informed their clients,” stated Oilouch.
In Ochedruchei’ssuit against Oilouch, it alleges that the information on the exact size and location of the ADA was withheld from Ochedruchei Clan by Vice President Oilouch and that the stress as a result of this action contributed to the rapid deterioration of Obil-Teluk’s health and she passed away shortly after in July of 2019.
The case was filed yesterday at the Palau Supreme Court.