Koror, Palau – On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Ngaraard State Governor, Benjamin Iskawa, was arrested together with three nationals from the People’s Republic of China, i.e., Yanxiang Zu, Congying Liu, and Changhong Sun, on 18 separate criminal violations.
Governor Benjamin Iskawa was charged with five felonies and six misdemeanors including Misconduct in Public Office; a violation of the Ethics Code; violations of the Palau Social Security System; violations of the Unified Tax Act; a violation of the Foreign Investment Act; and, Promoting Prostitution.
Ms. Yanxiang Zu (aka “Alice”) was charged with violating the Foreign Investment Act, Promoting Prostitution, Prostitution, and Working Without a Valid Work Permit. Ms. Changhong Sun was also charged with Prostitution and Working Without a Valid Work Permit. Ms. Congying Liu was charged with Prostitution.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Office and the Office of the Special Prosecutor received information alleging corruption and operation of an illegal prostitution business being run by the Jia Ren Massage Parlor owned by Governor Benjamin Iskawa. Further investigation by the two agencies, including undercover operations, yielded evidence of prostitution including a notebook containing some names, dates, amounts, and places the prostitution took place. Documents obtained from various government agencies resulted in the above-listed charges being filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor including allegations of false reports filed with various government agencies, operating the Jia Ren Massage Parlor as a “front business,” and regular use of the Jia Ren Massage Parlor for prostitution purposes.
The four Defendants were arrested and pled “not guilty” at their initial appearances held Tuesday afternoon, June 16, 2020, before Presiding Justice Oldiais Ngiraikelauin the Trial Division of the Palau Supreme Court. The next Court date is scheduled for July 13, 2020, as a status conference. Please visit www.palauosp.org for updates on OSP criminal prosecutions and related documents.
April Dawn Cripps, Special Prosecutor for the Republic of Palau, made the announcement and will be prosecuting the case with support from Jacob Gordin, Assistant Special Prosecutor.
NOTE: A criminal complaint (Information) contains allegations that a defendant committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.