segunda-feira, 23 de junho de 2014

Timor-Leste has been robbed!

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La'o Hamutuk - 23 June 2014

La'o Hamutuk has warned for years that Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth, when viewed through the cracks in our management systems and limited levels of experience and capacity, makes us a tempting target, Criminals from all over the world are enticed by the billion dollars Timor-Leste spends each year, and drool over our $16 billion Petroleum Fund. Our fears have now been confirmed.
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FBI officials in the USA arrested Nigerian-born U.S. citizen Bobby Boye last Thursday, charging him with seven crimes involving the theft of more than $3.5 million from Timor-Leste's people.
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Boye came to Timor-Leste in 2010 as part of Norway's assistance program in the Petroleum Sector, a $4 million, four-year program that finished in 2012, and he worked as an adviser in the National Directorate for Petroleum Revenue in the Ministry of Finance until last year. According to the FBI, Boye created a fake law firm in New York and arranged for it to get $7.8 million in contracts from Timor-Leste's Ministry of Finance. Timor-Leste was unaware that the "Opus & Best" company didn't exist or that Boye was behind it.
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RDTL officials became suspicious only after paying more than $3.5 million to Boye's fake company during 2012. We were told that they then worked with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and perhaps others, to develop the case against Boye.
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According to the FBI's legal filing, Boye spent his ill-gotten gains on four pieces of land in New Jersey, three luxury cars (including a Rolls Royce and a Bentley) and other items. If convicted on all charges, Boye could be imprisoned for 140 years, fined several million dollars, and ordered to repay the money he obtained by fraud.
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La'o Hamutuk has information and documents about this case on our web page on back petroleum taxes, which will be updated as we learn more.
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Bobby Boye pushed Timor-Leste's government to accuse ConocoPhillips and other oil companies of cheating on their taxes to Timor-Leste, leading to dozens of cases against them totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The companies paid under protest in order to avoid escalating penalties while appealing. Many of these cases are currently before an arbitration panel in Singapore, which will decide whether this part of Boye's work in Timor-Leste was legitimate.
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In addition to his salary from Norway and the money he obtained by fraud, Boye received a $250,000 salary from the Timor-Leste Government's Contingency Fund during 2011, which probably made him the highest paid person in the country. When we learned of this in November 2012, La'o Hamutuk asked Boye about it, and he replied:

"The Timor-Leste Prime Minister upon recommendation from the then Vice Minister of Finance, DG Revenue & Customs and the National Director of NDPR approved additional compensation for me based on my performance. The employment contract with Norway (now terminated) did not preclude the additional compensation that I received from the TL Government for the services that I rendered during the 2011 calendar year. Whether I am entitled to it or have earned is beyond debate....
"Quite frankly the people that want to ask questions should go ahead and do so but I will encourage them to also look at the results of what I am doing here. Aside from other intangibles like capacity building, structure at NDPR, I have literally brought in over $300 million of additional revenue to TL through solo efforts and that is a mere scratch on the surface-considering what is in the pipeline for TL.
"I spend an average of 14 hours a day, 7 days a week on what I do here. My talent is portable and if anybody thinks in and out government that I am paid too much, I am more than willing to move on-fairly quickly, so that they can get a cheap replacement." 

 We don't doubt that Boye worked hard -- in addition to his job as an adviser, he was secretly doing the work of an entire law firm (or at least enough to keep up appearances). And he did move on fairly quickly once people started asking questions ... but apparently not quickly enough to stay ahead of the feds.

We look forward to learning more about the Boye case, and wonder if other U.S. or Timorese people were involved. Timor-Leste should feel lucky that Boye only took us for around $4 million (about as much as the Ministry of Health spends each month). Let this be a lesson for officials, citizens, and everyone who believes that Timor-Leste's finite petroleum wealth should be used to improve the lives of its people.

La'o Hamutuk would have liked to include a photo of Nigerian-born Bobby Boye in this article, and would be grateful anyone who can provide one. The FBI says he is 50 years old. From our observations, he is a large man, about 190 cm tall and weighing at least 85 kilograms.
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