Reimbursing VP Bells legal expenses questioned

  15 Jul 2016

By: L.N. Reklai

July 13, 2016 (Koror) “When elected officials and employees are carrying out their official duties for the Republic’s benefit, they must be provided adequate support in all aspects including defense against legal claims.  If such is not provided, then the Republic runs the risk of not receiving the best services from its elected officials and employees because of fear of consequence and lack of adequate support from the government,” stated President Remengesau Jr. in response to a question why the government is reimbursing VP Bells legal expenses in the recently passed budget. [restrict]

“I signed the bill into law which included appropriation for legal fees and expenses the Vice President incurred while acting lawfully in his official capacity,” added Remengesau.

The recently signed RPPL 9-62, Supplemental Budget for FY 2016, appropriated $25,000 to pay Vice President Bells’ legal fees he personally incurred defending himself in a lawsuit filed against him by Interim Special Prosecutor Melissa Simms.

Vice President Bell’s had requested Attorney General’s Office to assist him in investigating the Director of Public Safety for potential misconduct. According to previous statement, Attorney General’s Office cited conflict of interest and referred Vice President Bells to Interim Special Prosecutor.  Interim Special Prosecutor Simms instead filed a suit against VP Bells and subpoena his private bank accounts but later dropped the suit citing that “it was for the best interest of the Republic”.

Vice President Bells in a released statement yesterday says that his investigation of the Director of Public Safety have been proven right by the Public Auditor Report issued on April 21, 2016. The report stated that actions taken by Director of Public Safety directing the deposit of funds into private account was against the law.

“I had no other options but to seek and hire private attorney to defend me and to ensure that the issue is clear that I was not violating any law and that I was performing my duties” stated VP Bells in statement to the press yesterday.

VP Bells in his public statement expressed his appreciation to Senators Rudimch and Baules for initiating the process to get him reimbursed, not for him personally but as “matter of principle”. [/restrict]