Pohnpei files criminal charges against former Director of OFA

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
January 5, 2018
Pohnpei—The Attorney General’s office has filed criminal charges against former Director of the Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Casiano Shoniber.
Mr. Shoniber had previously written to the Governor to say that accusations against him were unfounded and all had reasonable explanations.
Just the same, the State filed charges against him alleging in the first count of misconduct in office that he inappropriately transferred an OFA boat trailer to a person who is not an employee of OFA.
The second count of misconduct in office regards the transfer of an OFA generator in exchange for a pig worth approximately $1500 that was then taken to Shoniber’s home. He later purchased a generator at his own expense but the charges allege that the replacement generator was not as efficient or powerful as the generator he exchanged for a pig in Oroluk.
A third charge of theft of services alleged that he directed employees of OFA, during work hours to do personal work for him such as husking coconuts for coconut meal for his own pigs and planting sakau for his personal use.
The final charge of misconduct in office alleges abuse of authority. The State claims that he threatened to withhold pay from OFA employees who did not obey or comply with his orders even when those orders were to perform personal services for them. It claims that he also refused to approve applications for leave for OFA employees and used foul and abusive language against them and in some cases threatened bodily harm. It claims that he allowed OFA employees to operate a motor boat while under the influence of alcohol and also allowed OFA employees to fish in a Marine Protected Area and then used the catch for other than immediate personal consumption. It claims that he used staff and government vehicles for personal use during business hours. It claims that he also transferred custody of a boat that had been donated by the Japanese government to a non-OFA employee along with a motor paid for by the FSM. It claims that he used portions of $10,000 given to OFA by the FSM Congress for a trip to the Marshall Islands and that he also used a portion of those funds to buy electronic equipment from his son’s business, which the State says is a conflict of interest.
Mr. Shoniber is off island and has not yet been arraigned. He is presumed to be innocent of all charges unless proven otherwise during a court trial.