Customs Officer charged of pocketing departure tax and green fee payments.
January 12, Koror, Palau- The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), in a criminal complaint with at least 50 charges, charged Bureau of Customs officer Eudora Lucio with offenses ranging from money laundering, theft of government property, tampering with government records, and misconduct in public office after allegedly pocketing close to $40,000 in departure tax and green fee payments. [restrict]
Lucio who allegedly committed the crime between 2014 to 2016.is scheduled for arraignment this morning.
The charges were filed Dec.20. and the Court issued a summons on January 9 for arraignment to take place January 13, at 8:45 a.m.
Based on the 28-page affidavit of probable cause executed by Assistant Special Prosecutor Timothy Zintak stated that the investigation against Lucio was prompted when a
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Information Technology employee found original receipts issued for charged $10 departure fees from a flight which departed the Airport in March 2015 in a trash bin at Palau International Airport in Airai.
The original receipts indicated that the Customs collector for that flights on that day was Lucio.
The affidavit further added that during the investigation by Customs and the OSP has learned that Lucio “was illegally handling cash transactions during employment in an official position at Palau International Airport.”
The probe uncovered information showing that the defendant was taking money from the collection of green fee and departure tax and to cover it up “ altered official Customs records and destroyed receipts in order to give the appearance that some of the non-Palauan departing air passengers were actually Palauan travelers with Palauan passports.”
Palauan passport holders only pay a ten-dollar duty upon departure while non-Palauan passport holders pay a fee of $50 under the law. Probe showed Lucio provided Palauan passport numbers of people that were not travelling, cancelled or don’t actually exist with her reports to Customs.
Lucio only remitted $10 of those fees to the government and allegedly pocketed the rest.
After Lucio was suspected of taking money, she was reassigned to another post and then her alleged “pattern of fraudulent conduct has been uncovered,” when investigation was conducted on the days she was on duty as Custom tax collector.
The probe also looked into the customs report entered into the computer and travel manifest of flights that covered the days Lucio was assigned as Customs collector.
The investigation showed that from January, February, and March, April of 2015 fee collection, Lucio pocketed approximately $38,200.00.
Further investigation showed that Lucio appears to be spending more than what a Customs employee should be earning.
The affidavit said that within the period that Lucio was assigned as a collector of fees, she has purchased multiple vehicles and had large amounts of cash deposits in her bank account.
Lucio also allegedly provides loan to her co-workers and when questioned explained that she has extra money due to overtime payments received in her job.
Money laundering is punishable by 25 years imprisonment without the possibility of suspension of the sentence and an optional fine of up to twice the amount laundered.
For theft of government property, Lucio can face up to 25 years in prison and at least 10 years for misconduct in public office. [/restrict]