21 April 2009

"B" Alleges Timor Justice Minister used another's company to buy Prison Guard Uniforms

(Note: References in the translation of the article below to "big brother" are a straight translation of "maun" and "sister" of "mana" from tetum to english. The references to "sister" are of Minister Lucia Lobato and "big brother" of her Husband Americo Lopes.)

TRANSLATION OF “TEMPO SEMANAL” ARTICLE: “B” Alleges Justice Minister Used Name “Wasuba” to Buy Uniforms Edition Number 135, Monday 20 April 2009

The witness from whom the Justice Minister Lucia Maria Brandao Lobato and her husband asked for help find a company to use to supply uniforms for Timor-Leste prison guards have started to open their mouths to tell their story, strengthening the foundations of the allegations that the Justice Minister and her husband paid a bribe of 10% to the company named “Wasabu” in order to use their company’s name only to acquire uniforms and use their bank account to effect the transfer of funds paid for this Project to the Justice Minister. These allegations were made by “B”, who asked not to be named, but who is ready to cooperate with Timor-Leste State authorities to stop this misuse of State moneys. “First of all it was big brother Americo who
came. He came to speak to me. For me to look for a company, to make a purchase.”

When Tempo Semanal journalists tried to obtain clarification from the Justice Minister on the 17th of April after a seminar held the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building the Minister said, “Where are you from?” This newspapers journalist answered, “From Tempo Semanal.”
With a grimace the Minister said, “Right now I do not have time to speak with Tempo Semanal.” Perhaps the Minister was still feeling wounded by this newspaper’s earlier published article that she was suspected of Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism involving her Ministry.

This newspaper attempted to confirm with her the word “purchase” that Ms “B” had alleged, with a smile on her face, against what the Minister’s husband had “said regarding the uniforms (uniforms for prison guards).”

So as to discover what mischief these high level people were up to, she told him, “I will let you know later, if I can.” She emphasized, “I accepted to look for a company.” At that moment the lady concerned also had a company but its license had expired. “ I was going to give
mine but at that moment my company’s license had lapsed, it could not be used so I asked to use A’s instead,” she told further. After that B thought she would go and speak with her relative A, who was the owner of company Wasuba. “I spoke to A. A accepted, so he brought his
company over.”

A and B also began preparing the documents to formalize the tender in the middle of 2008, although according to an SMS from the minister shows that the process for acquiring the uniforms began in April 2008. “It was the two of us who in fact prepared this proposal,” B said.
Despite this, the two of them understood very well how this process would function. “Then the two of us spoke amongst ourselves and said, to do this thing, how do we do?” Because they did not understand it, B sought to find out from the Minister’s husband. “So then, I asked big
brother, and it seems that big brother spoke again with big sister.

This is what he said (big brother Americo, big brother Americo himself). This is what big brother said to the two of us that we would only get ten percent from the money, the budgeted moneys for making this purchase.”

“We got ten percent because the things were already there.” “These things were already acquired. We were only needed for help with the documents, merely for the preparation the proposal, just did things like the formalities. Just did the formalities for the things
that were already there ready to be delivered, just to be delivered, ready, to just make the claim for payment.”

He emphasized, alleging that, “ The things were already there, we merely helped with the company and made the proposal, so that the money could, could be paid out.” The price for this project was nearly US$100,000, but A and B as owners of the company only received
US$9,700. “But we only got ten percent from the total. But we did not buy the things, because we were told that they were already bought. They were already bought just waiting to be picked up and delivered.”

She also told of how the uniforms were transported from Indonesia. “Picking up the things. We went to pick up the things. My younger sibling took care of it in Surabaya and it was L who went to collect it in Jakarta,” B said.

Indeed this was also confirmed by LO. “At that moment I went to Indonesia, the Justice Minister herself telephoned me, she said, “I had to go to Jakarta to pick up the things and bring them here.” But he said he told her he rejected it saying, “this project is not mine.” B said that it was she who went to collect the specimen of the documents from the Ministry of Justice.
“This specimen here, at that time we went to pick up at justice. We went to pick it up there. If I am not wrong collected from Mr. Antonio,” B said. But B explained that it was not a specimen regarding the quality of the goods but regarding some other document. “This is not a specimen, but a project proposal document. It was blank so she asked for us to help her.”

Despite it being the two of them who filed out the form regarding the uniforms it was the Minister who gave them the amount for the contract price. “ We prepared it but they gave us the budget amount directly.

How much, that was given directly by them. At that moment big brother Americo brought it over to us,” she alleged of the Minister’s husband.

“They had already given the amount of the contract price. They gave us ninety seven thousand. They told us to put down ninety seven. Then after they gave us the price of ninety seven, they told us to put in the amounts per item, as to how much that was to be according to us, but what was clear was that it had to come out to ninety thousand dollars. Like this,” B said.

This newspaper was able to access the CPV in the amount of US$97,000.00 specifying the manufacture of more than five hundred uniforms, but it did not specify which company was to receive this money. “So the name of this company was used with nine thousand seven
hundred (US$9,700.00) then after we paid tax would be nine thousand seven hundred (US$9,700.00). The two of us got ten percent like this and A’s company had its tax paid,” A said, who after having received the money took 90% and delivered it to the minister’s residence in Bidau.

“We just used the company’s name and we just went through the formalities. We put in the amounts for the items to be able to lodge it and that was all. We didn’t do anything else,” B emphasized her allegations.

According to B’s recollection at the time they inserted a proposed amount of around five hundred dollars per item. “The items for the uniforms at the time it was five hundred and something, something like that. It was delivered in phases. 50% delivered (fifty percent). We didn’t deliver it all. Up until now we have not been able to receive payment of the refund of two thousand (US$2,000.00) security money that we deposited in Bank Mandiri. Because they say the goods have not been delivered one hundred percent.”

“We put it in (bill security). A and I took a debt, so that the two of us could put it in. Because at that time we asked sister directly.” What did the Minister for Justice say to do? The Minister for Justice told B to speak to her husband. “Speak to big brother, big brother said speak with sister as we are not prepared to speak with sister. The two of us and Amau were also scared because we still owed money to sister.”

“The two of us put the money together and then we telephoned big brother asking him to pay back the two thousand. Because we borrowed money from someone for that. So Americo gave us the two thousand back so that the two of us could pay back the people we owed money to.”
B added that, “yes, it was not ours. Because at the time we borrowed money from someone, big brother paid us back.” If this case goes further in the future are you prepared to give testimony? “Yes when needed we can give ours, (statement) we will go,” she said calmly. “This money was paid into the company Wasuba, it went into Wasuba’s company bank account.”

As soon as the transfer had been made form the Government to Wasuba’s company account they withdrew it and delivered it to the home of the Minister for Justice in Bidau. “After withdrawing it, withdrawing straight away, A took it and gave it to big brother and big sister at
Bidau and then A took our percentage and brought it here to be distributed to us. The two of us divided it here (at front of the house). All the money was taken and given to big brother and big
sister in Bidau. All the money that was transferred from the State into the bank account of Wasuba, was all withdrawn by A. At the time I did not want to go. So (she said) because it was A’s company, I told him he should go and collect it. As soon as he collected it he telephoned big sister, and she said take it to Bidau straight away.

The money was taken straight away to sister’s house, all delivered there, then, we were given money as part of our share.” “Initially when big brother spoke to me it was like this. He was only going to give me three thousand five hundred (US$3,500.00). I was just going to help with lodging a company for them. Then I said this: three thousand five hundred (US$3,500.00) and we will the rest. Then I spoke to A but A rejected it. A said three thousand five hundred
(US$3,500.00) to do what? We are going to do everything, all these things, and it was then that sister said to us, she would give the two of us ten percent. Because it was not right, this project was an Indonesian’s? (If it’s like that then why don’t you use the name of this Indonesian’s company?)”

Although the payment from the Government budget has lapsed the uniforms, “it came in phases because the ones came from Jakarta.” According to LO in the middle of 2008, he was in Surabaya for a graduation ceremony when he received a telephone call from the Justice
Minister asking him to go to Jakarta to collect the uniforms and take them by plane to Surabaya. “I received a telephone call from big sister asked me to go to Jakarta, go collect the uniforms at a lady friend of the Minister’s in Jakarta to take by plane to Surabaya so as
to ship by sea to Timor-Leste.” Because of this he departed straight away to Jakarta to take the goods back to Surabaya and then to ship by sea to Dili.

As the goods delivered were incomplete when they arrived, further requests were made for B’s younger sibling in Surabaya to help find some more. “The second delivery was from Surabaya.”

According to this witness, who was brave enough to accept this dirty work from a high level political leader in order to get to the bottom of the mischief of these politicians, his younger sibling sent more goods as requested but he had to send some more because the quantities
were again insufficient, “They arrived but when A delivered it, he said to me, B they don’t want to receive these things. A said, B they do not want to receive the goods because they are not one hundred percent there.” Then A asked, B what he thought, “Now what do we do?”
To this B said that he did not know and he asked A to let the Minister’s husband’s know. “Now you have to speak to big brother and them. Because, I do not know either. Whatever they send we do, we just do it.”

B immediately justified to A that according to instructions from the Minister and her Husband, they were only suppose to organize the documents to legalize the tender process. “To help with the documents, but with things like this, like this, I do not know anything,” added B.
“We were not suppose to do this, because at the time big brother made the proposal to us it was to pay ten percent (10%). We already have the goods, he told us there and then. We are just waiting to deliver (the proposal documents) them, so that the goods can just be delivered
to the warehouse, so that payment can be made,” alleged B. When this newspaper questioned regarding these documents B said, “Our documents were the only things needed. Only the company were needed.”

The Wasuba company documents were taken and lodged with the Ministry of Justice. “Then the company profile was taken and given to sister herself. We handed it directly to sister. The two of us, A and I went there to give it to her,” she said with certainty.

She emphasized her allegation that the Minister and her husband did not ask them to do any more work but to just give them a business name. “All they needed was the company, the goods were already acquired. They only needed the documents for formality, someone else’s

Six months, or seven months ago, this newspaper published a series of SMS’s from the mobile telephone of the Minister for Justice in the IV Constitutional Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Lucia Maria Brandao Lobato supporting allegations that she had given
herself and her friends projects, which to this date have not been the subject of any investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office. But because of these allegations that Tempo Semanal published in Edition 108 on 14/10/08 the Minister for Justice lodged a complaint of criminal defamation against the Director of this newspaper Jose Belo with the Prosecutor General’s Office, which has already summonsed him and released him on conditional liberty, but placed him under reporting conditions, limiting his movements.

This case has not yet been tried to date, because according to the previous Prosecutor General Dr. Longuinhos Monteiro, he was still awaiting further evidence from the Justice Minister. To this day this newspaper and it’s director are still under accusation of having committed criminal defamation. Prior to lodging a complaint with the Prosecutor General, the Justice Minister also published an expensive full-page newspaper advertisement in a national daily newspaper, supplied at no cost to her, denying the allegations made by Tempo Semanal, calling Tempo Semanal stupid, backward, liars, lacking in credibility and accusing this newspaper of trying to bring down the AMP government.

But now this newspaper has been able to find witnesses who have given valuable testimony regarding the Prison Guards Uniforms, which has remained controversial until this day because the Prison Guards themselves have rejected the uniforms, footwear, and headwear purchased because they are adorned with TNI and ABRI (Indonesian Armed Forces labels).

(end of translation)

Translated distributed by Fretilin

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