Koror, Palau – On Thursday, December 16, 2021, former Executive Commissioner for the Financial Institutions Commission (FIC), G. Semdiu Decherong, was arraigned before Presiding Justice Kathleen M. Salii, in the Trial Division of the Palau Supreme Court, on a criminal Information setting forth five charges. The conduct leading to the filing of these charges allegedly took place between December 4-5, 2021.
Mr. Decherong was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors alleging as follows:
- Misconduct in public office (17 PNC § 3918), as a public official, by acting under the color of office or willfully neglecting the duties of his office when he drove a national government vehicle unrelated to his official government functions. This is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, up to a $25,000 fine, or both.
- Criminal property damage in the second degree (17 PNC § 2502) when he crashed his government vehicle and caused damage to a private vehicle, private property, and to the government vehicle in an amount exceeding $300 but less than $20,000. This is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both.
- Theft of Government Property in the First Degree (17 PNC § 2615) when he embezzled or converted a thing of value to the national government, to-wit: a government vehicle in an amount less than $20,000, to his own use. This is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, up to a $25,000 fine, or both; or a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both. The class of felony will depend on the value of the vehicle proven at trial.
- Violation of the Code of Ethics (33 PNC § 603) by using national assets or property for private activities that serve no governmental or public purpose.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or intoxicating liquor (42 PNC § 514) by driving a government vehicle on the highways of the Republic of Palau while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
April Dawn Cripps, Special Prosecutor for the Republic of Palau, made the announcement and will be prosecuting the case. The case is currently set for a plea hearing on January 10, 2022, at 1:00 p.m.
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.