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Crime

DHL heir on run after failing drugs test in Palau

Larry Hillbroom Jnr faced 50 years in jail before pleading guilty at the last minute to trafficking charges, under a deal that allowed him to escape incarceration

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 1:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 1:24pm

DHL heir Larry Hillbroom Jnr was on the run in the Pacific island nation of Palau on Friday after failing mandatory drug testing imposed as part of a trafficking sentence.

Multimillionaire Hillbroom was placed on 10 years’ probation and fined US$50,000 last month after admitting trafficking methamphetamine.

The sentencing judge said he would be imprisoned for five years if he returned a positive drug sample.

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Attorney General Ernestine Rengiil said in the wake of his failed drug test, police have now issued an arrest warrant for Hillbroom.

“A positive drug test shall result in immediate incarceration of defendant,” she added, citing Hillbroom’s sentencing order.

Hillbroom had faced up to 50 years in jail before pleading guilty at the last minute to trafficking charges, under a deal that allowed him to escape incarceration.

The plea bargain angered President Tommy Remengesau, who earlier this month said Palau had a zero-tolerance policy on drugs that should apply to all people, regardless of their wealth.

Hillbroom, who holds US and Palau passports, is a son of Larry Hillblom, co-founder of the shipping company, although their surnames are spelt differently.

He is one of four illegitimate children, and successfully sued for a share of the billionaire businessman’s fortune after Hillblom died in a plane crash in 1995.

Hillbroom’s inheritance has been estimated at US$100 million, although he said last year that financial mismanagement meant it was now much less.

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Hillbroom, normally based in the US, was visiting Palau in 2016 when he was arrested for allegedly arranging for two women to smuggle methamphetamine from the Philippine capital Manila to Palau.

He fled from custody after his arrest but was caught a night later when police plucked him from the sea as he tried to swim away.