Thursday, 3 March 2011

Into Whose Hands is the Money Going?

 Second HL's English Translation No.6-Year V-201 

Tempo Semanal-Dili, 18.02.2011

As during the Indonesian times, those who govern always have more opportunity. Just as has occurred during previous and the current AMP governments.

Currently, many of us can find out who can get and implement many of the contracts for government projects.  Automatically those with links to the previous government are not benefitting as much as in the past.

Just like the Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry (MTCI), Gil Alves.  During Indonesian times, Gil Alves got many contracts for projects from the Indonesian Government.  Especially when his brother in law Abílio José Osório Soares was still Governor of Timor Timur.

It is known that at first the Prime Minister held a meeting with the veterans of the national resistance so that the government contracts for the importation of rice would be handed over to them, so that veterans could also obtain a small benefit from government contracts.  However, when this reached the implementation stage the process became a matter of disagreement.  The Prime Minister approved and signed off on a list of altogether 30 or so persons who would have the right to import rice for the government.

As soon as the process got into the hands of the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry (MTCI), the list of companies more than doubled, to a total of 68. What is stranger is that those who ended up being listed are not veterans of the resistance at all, but it is suspected they are actually pro-Indonesia integrationist veterans, have family relationship with MTCI civil servants and are relatives of the Minister himself. 

Family Network

Manuela Lemos Osório Soares from Gracia Shop.  According to Tempo Semanal’s sources, this business has family links with Minister Gil Alves.  The lady who is the principal of the business is the Goddaughter of Minister Gil Alves’s brother in law, Abílio Osório Soares (the former governor of Timor Timur).

Fernando Lay form the company Lay Unipessoal, Lda.  He is the Minister’s brother in law.  He is also the former driver for Minister Gil Alves.  Fernando Lay is currently in Becora Jail for crimes he was involved with since November 2010.  The question that arises is how a director of a company who is serving time in jail can still be involved in government rice importation contracts, and can still have the opportunity to access MTCI’s contracts.
The Company Fitun Maubara, belonging to Lai Quait Nhuc, which according to Tempo Semanal’s sources, has already got government contracts to import rice in 2009.  But, in 2010 they got another opportunity from the government to import rice together with the veterans.  The owner of this company is from Liquica district, sub-district of Maubara, and is suspected of having family links with Minister Gil Alves who is also from Chinese descent from Maubara.

It is also suspected that Gil Alves’ niece also had the opportunity to “sit” together with veterans to get a government contract to import rice.
Also suspected of being jammed into the rice supply process is Bader Alkatiri.  However, when we confirmed with Bader Alkatiri, he said that he had been approved by PM Xanana himself, having been permitted to act on behalf of his brother Ali Alkatiri who is a veteran.

Despite this fact, Bader is also a good friend of Minister Gil Alves from Indonesian times.  Prior to being included on the veterans’ list to import rice, Bader Alkatiri met frequently with Minister Gil Alves. 

Another name that was suddenly included on the list of persons to be granted contracts to supply rice was that of António Correia.  According to Tempo Semanal’s sources, António also met frequently with Minister Gil Alves in his Office. 
Another company, which has family links with MTCI civil servants, is one named Carisma Unip, Lda.  According to information obtained by this newspaper, a director of the company named João de Fátima Araújo da Silva has family links with MTCI Director General, Georgina Corte-Real.  

Another company that has links with “people inside” is that belonging to José Manuel Smith’s company Kakuit Jaya Supply.  He is the husband of the Inspector General for Food Security and Finance in MTCI.
Another company, Jody Unip, Lda belonging to João Daniel Soares Baptista (the son of the former Viqueque district secretary, Daniel Soares Baptista).  Daniel Baptista which on current information lives in Kupang, Indonésia, is well known from the time during the Indonesian occupation as having attempted to kill Bishop Dom Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, by poison in a cake he brought as a present for him.  He failed when the Bishop’s dog died instead after the whole cake was fed to the dog instead, which dog died immediately.

This newspaper also contacted other Chinese businessmen who were included in the list of those to be given contracts to supply rice, like Siu Kion Lau from the company Natural Food Supply Unip, Lda.  He says that he was backed up by a veteran named Miguel “Naha-Dasi”.  However, some of Tempo Semanal’s sources who are Falintil-FDTL veterans have informed us that Miguel “Naha-Dasi” had once been a combatant in the jungles, but had surrendered and was involved with the SERA militia group that was formed by the Indonesian Army’s Kopassus in Baucau district. 

During his involvement with SERA, Miguel “Naha-Dasi” together with other militia was involved in campaigns that involve the killing of FALINTIL soldiers in the jungles.  For this, the veterans do not acknowledge Naha-Dasi as a veteran.  Because of this they say he is not entitled to represent himself as a veteran to import rice.

This is not all, Miguel “Naha-Dasi” is also behind two other companies importing rice, Natural Food Supply Unip, Lda and Bemvindo Timor Unip, Lda.

Persons who are currently serving civil servants own some businesses that are involved in the rice importation process. According to our information Jorge Oliveira Martins from the company Egana Food Unip, Lda, is currently the Chief of Staff of the Secretary of State for the Autonomous Region of Oecussi, although of late he has not turned up for work.  This newspaper confirmed with the Secretary of State for the Region of Oecussi, Jorge Teme confirmed that Jorge Oliveira Martins is still employed in his Office. 

The result has been that despite the Prime Minister recommending 30 or so veterans, more than half of the US$17,000,000 allocated to MTCI to buy rice, has fallen into the hands of people who are not veterans.  It is also suspected that Money has also gone into the pockets of people who are either friends or are family of the Minister and civil servants in the MTCI.

Bank Accounts Blocked

According to Purchase Orders emitted by the government for contracts to import rice, each company should receive US$249,000 (for importing 441 tons of rice each) from the total of US$17,500,000, with the 68 companies together importing a total of 30,000 tons of rice.  MTCI also paid US$500,000 in a tender for the stevedoring company to handle the importation at the port of entry. 

From the total of US$17,000,000 for the acquisition of rice, US$14,000,000 worth was committed on the acquisition and importation of 30,000.  The remainder of the budget would be divided between the companies into each of their accounts to pay the bank for the costs incurred with the Letters of Credit.  According to our calculation, this would mean US$30,000 per company.
This whole process has caused Great controversy.  Some have questioned why non-veterans were given contracts, and others questioned non-veterans who used the names of veterans to acquire contracts, but the benefits of which have all gone to the non-veterans. 

According to our investigations the list of those who used the names of veterans, include Egana Food Unip, Lda that used Mau-Hunu Rankadalak’s name.  However, the director of the company Egas Guterres da Silva has lost contact with the veteran concerned.  Tempo Semanal tried to contact Egas Guterres da Silva by telephone from the list of 68 companies obtained by us, but found the telephone number listed therein as being deactivated.
The veteran concerned has asked that the government take swift measures to ensure that the Money transferred pursuant to this transaction is not retained by the director of the company concerned instead of being paid to the designated veteran whose name was used to acquire the contract to begin with.

“It is the director of the company who has control of the bank account as it is opened in his or her company’s name, so if the Money is transferred into the account by the government, then we are concerned that they will take the Money and run and do not share it with us as intended” said Sansao, the director of the company Bele-Bele Unipessoal, Lda and the coordinator of the team that was entrusted by the 68 companies with negotiating with Vietnamese suppliers to import to rice into Timor-Leste.

According to Sansao, he has already discussed the issue with the Director General of MTCI and Bank Mandiri.  Bank Mandiri has already decided that it will block the money in the respective accounts of the companies with the bank.  When the whole process has finished and payment is pending, they will hold a general meeting with MTCI, Bank Mandiri and the companies to seek full clarification of the issues prior to making payment to the accounts. TS

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