Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

Alleged Bank Fraud of a couple turned into Money Laundering by OSP

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The President’s Chief Security Officer and his wife were allegedly involved in fraud of $52,471 but the office of the special prosecutor has charged the duo on the counts of money laundering, theft of government property. A release was granted on a bail of $1,000 for the husband and $500 for the wife.

In the case of Clifton Soalablai, a Lieutenant Police Officer and a Chief Security Officer of the President, allegedly deposited his payroll check in the bank with a deliberate confirmation of an incorrect amount of $52,471 instead of $524.71.

Oxford dictionary defines money laundering as “The concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.”

Money laundering under Palauan law is defined as (1)The conversion or transfer of property for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illegal origin of such property; or (2)The concealment or disguise of the illegal nature, source, location, disposition, movement, or ownership of property;

The check received wasn’t from an illegal source but a payroll from the Government of Palau in exchange for services provided by Soalablai.

The crime has been allegedly committed but the charge of money laundering fits nowhere in the court document filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

According to the official statement of Joram Madlutk, a criminal investigator with the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) the alleged crime took place on or about 17th January this year.

He further states that Soalablai allegedly deposited a payroll check of $524.71 from the National Treasury of Republic of Palau into his Bank of Guam (BOG) personal savings account which previously had a sum of $56.69.

The $524.71 turned into $52,471 when Soalablai confirmed the latter as the correct amount while depositing the check through the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM).

The couple, Clifton Soalablai and his wife Margie Ngirmidol have been charged together on two counts of Theft of Government Property and Money Laundering even though the check deposited in the bank was supposed to be his personal payroll.

However, investigative officer alleged that the money or funds belonging to the Republic were the proceeds of crime after said money or funds were stolen and deposited into Soalabalai’s Bank of Guam savings account.

As Soalablai holds a public office, he was also charged with Misconduct in Public Office.

Although, the crime was allegedly committed in Bank of Guam, Koror office where Soalablai was at in his personal capacity to deposit his payroll.

“When an ATM is unable to read a check amount or the correct amount is not confirmed by the depositor, the depositor is asked to input the correct amount of the deposited check and then reconfirm the amount” Madlutk said in his statement.

Instead of correcting the amount issued to Soalablai by the treasury, he confirmed an incorrect amount of $52,471, according to the investigator Madlutk.

The withdrawal of the huge sum took place between 4th and 25th of February as a couple when Soalablai and Ngirmidol withdrew a total sum of $6,870 in cash in the amounts of $70 to $600.

The OSP accessed the ATM footage provided by BOG which further revealed that Ngirmidol withdrew funds 16 times which totaled to $6,270 when the investigators cross checked it with the bank records.

The withdrawal of Soalablai was limited to $600, however, the card was used to make a purchase at Surangel & Son for $732.

According to Madlutk, when BOG representatives met with Soalablai regarding the overdraft and incorrect deposit amount, he admitted that he was aware at the time of the deposit that the amount confirmed was incorrect. He also admitted to the withdrawals made using his BOG account.

The Chief Of Staff of the President said that Soalablai is on suspension as of Monday until the end of the due process.

Island Times attempted reaching Soalablai for comments but he was unresponsive to the requests. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)