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Alii and Welcome!

A Message from Special Prosecutor April Dawn Cripps

Today, August 6, 2020, I celebrate my two-year mark as the Special Prosecutor for the Republic of Palau. Our office has done its best to expose corruption, encourage good governance, and help those who call Palau home find the courage to speak up and make a difference. To date, we received complaints of government corruption from members of government, whistleblowers within the government, and private individuals who trust the integrity of our office to impartially investigate, and when appropriate, prosecute their complaints without hesitation.

The Special Prosecutors Act gives the Special Prosecutor the powers, functions and duties (1) to receive complaints of, investigate, and prosecute any and all allegations of violations of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Palau; and, (2) to investigate and act as the prosecutor for the national government in any other case in which the Ministry of Justice or the Office of the Attorney General is unable to investigate or prosecute because of an actual or potential conflict of interest or other ethical considerations. It also gives the Special Prosecutor the ability to require the aid and assistance of any national or state officials, government employees, and any custodian of public funds or property at all times in the inspection and examination of all books, records, accounts and property of the national government or a state government, their subdivisions and agencies.

These are broad powers meant to enhance the independent nature of the Special Prosecutor so that prosecutorial decisions and priorities will not be dictated by political considerations or personal affiliations. The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) was created to focus its efforts on high-priority public integrity matters. My actions as Special Prosecutor have focused on this directive, and I will continue to do so regardless of the crime, or who is involved, or whether the suspects are in the forefront or behind the scenes of criminal activity. Neither fear, intimidation, or adversity will prevent the OSP from continuing to conduct itself in a professional manner in our fight against corruption and corrupt practices. We will continue to work with agencies of the government and the public sector, as possible, to ensure cases are prosecuted properly and effectively, keeping in mind the confidential nature of most of our investigations. And as the Special Prosecutor, I will promote the cause of justice in the Republic of Palau by action and deed throughout the remainder of my contract.

Kom kmal mesulang!

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Palauan Precepts

A precept is a general rule that helps you to decide how you should behave in particular circumstances.

In this section, the Office of the Special Prosecutor will place questions and answers from its public outreach programs and present points of law and legal concepts as interpreted by the Palau Supreme Court relevant to the work of the OSP. .

This is not meant to provide legal advice but to make it easier to find relevant law and understand how the OSP applies the law to its work. If you need specific legal advice, please consult an attorney.

A campaign contribution is not limited to money. If a foreign national, “any individual who is not a citizen of the Republic of Palau, or a business entity, any of the ownership interest of which is held, directly or indirectly, by an individual who is not a citizen of the Republic of Palau,” makes a contribution of anything to a state or national election candidate’s campaign, the OSP would view the contribution as unlawful under the Code of Ethics, 33 PNCA § 607(a).Friendship between a candidate and foreign national would not preclude the application of the Code of Ethics.  See Code of Ethics 33 PNCA § 601(j).

Under the Code of Ethics, 33 PNCA§ 607(a), the OSP would view the contribution as unlawful. It does not matter whether the campaign contribution coming from a foreign national is made directly to the candidate or indirectly through a third party (in this case through the foreign national’s adopted daughter). If a contribution originates from a foreign national with the intent to give it to a candidate’s campaign, the candidate cannot accept or receive it.

A candidate for any national or state elective office, may not “solicit, accept, or receive” any contribution in connection with the election, whether the contribution was made directly to the candidate or through a third party.  To accept such a contribution would be a violation of the Code of Ethics be a misdemeanor punishable and prosecutable by the Attorney General or the Special Prosecutor. See the Code of Ethics found under Title 33, Chapter 6, for the complete list of campaign laws.

White-collar crime (also referred to as “corporate crime), as it relates to government officials, generally are those crimes considered to be financially or economically driven non-violent crimes.  Corporate or government officials usually have better access to finances in the corporation or government that would allow for abuses under this category.

“White collar” in the U.S. historically referred to non-manual workers wearing suits, white shirts, and ties, as opposed to “blue collar” referring to manual labor workers who wore blue shirts.  White-collar crimes may include fraud, extortion, embezzlement, money laundering, cybercrime, wage theft, and forgery.

Corruption is “(t)he act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others.” U. S. v. Johnson (C. C.) 20 Fed. 082; State v. Ragsdale. 59 Mo. App. 003; Wight v. Rindskopf, 43 Wis. 351; Worsham v. Murchison, 00 Ga. 719; U. S. v. Edwards (C. C.) 43 Fed. 07. – See https://thelawdictionary.org/corruption/.

Corruption, as identified and discussed during the OSP public outreach campaign, may take various forms including bribery, theft, fraud, extortion, misuse of government funds, misuse of government property, etc.

Review All Palauan Precepts