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Guam Ethics Commission recommends criminal probe into 7 ethics complaints

speaker hosting ethics training before an audience
Government employees attend an ethics training conducted by Atty. Vince Camacho at the Sinajana Central Community Arts Hall on Sept. 8. Photo courtesy of GEC

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Guam Ethics Commission has transmitted seven ethics complaints to the Office of the Attorney General, recommending criminal investigations into the cases.

The commission did not provide details of the seven cases, which were among the 15 ethics complaints recently lodged before the panel.

"Six cases were dismissed due to either no violation being documented, or the issue being dismissed for lack of jurisdiction," the commission said in a press release.

The commission deliberated on the 15 complaints during its regular meeting on Sept. 29. The proceedings were carried out in private.

The ethics body has received a total of 53 cases since it began accepting complaints in March 2022. "The ethics commission is fully dedicated to its mandate," said Jesse Quenga, executive director of the commission. "We believe these seven complaints are significant enough to warrant further investigation by the attorney general's office.

The Guam Ethics Commission was created by Public Law 23-105 but was empaneled and became active only in 2019 through an executive order.

The panel began receiving funding in fiscal 2021 to cover "essential personnel" to enable the commission to begin operation.

Of the 53 cases filed with the commission, 31 were previously dismissed while four were accepted for further investigation prior to the Sept. 29 meeting.

The ethics complaints pending before the body involved cases related to employee use of confidential information, prohibition against unfair treatment and conflicts of interest.

The commission is responsible for ensuring that Guam's legislators and government employees adhere to a set standard of conduct based on laws that prohibit acceptance of gifts, fair treatment and conflicts of interest.

"One of our core objectives is to maintain ethical conduct and ensure government accountability. In pursuit of these values, the commission will persist in its rigorous investigative processes and promoting ethics training," Quenga said.

In addition to its enforcement responsibilities, the commission also oversees mandatory ethics training for all public employees and elected officials to ensure a "comprehensive understanding of ethical obligations and responsibilities among public officials." During the Sept. 29 meeting, a total of 578 additional employees attended the ethics training. This brings the total number of employees who have completed the mandatory Ethics in Government program to over 5,000.

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