16 November 2010

Organised crime in Timor-Leste

Fundasaun Mahein, October  28,  2010 Press Release Organized Crime Operating in Timor Leste -
Fundasaun Mahein’s Voice edition number 14 will discuss in depth about the actions of Organized Crime in Timor Leste.  The issue of Organized Crime has affected the safety of the public and many people do not know what the actions of Organized Crime are.  Organized Crimes are illegal activities (or crimes) committed by individuals and/or organizations with intelligence and with financial capital involving illegal transactions with a high level of sophistication. They include, among others, human trafficking, illegal electronic transactions, prostitution, money laundering, drug smuggling, Terrorism, controlling groups of professional thieves, stealing of vehicles in Dili, assault and most importantly, extortion rackets.

According to Fundasaun Mahein Organized Crime mostly operates where there is access to a large amount of economic benefits.  Timor-Leste’s State Budget for 2010 is $ 837, 981,000, in addition to the ratification of money for development projects.  This increased spending, without proper oversight mechanisms can be seen by organized crime as a potential way to make a profit.  As we saw with the attempt by businessman Datuk Edward Ong, who claimed to be representing a company called “Asian Champ Investment Ltd,” to scam Timor-Leste’s Petroleum Fund by asking for over $1 billion dollars to be transferred to a Hong Kong bank in return for an upfront 7.5% payout.[2]

In this report FM has identified a syndicate of motorbike thieves who cooperate with some government authorities who assist with the falsification of motorbike documents and the creation of fake license plates, which are used before the motorbikes are re-sold in the districts and to local vehicle dealerships in Dili.  40% of these stolen motorbikes are resold in the districts and 60% are sold to the dealerships in Dili mentioned above.  More details are available in the full-length report.  FM’s research also found information about illegal drugs being transported from Indonesia into Timor-Leste through the land border and also on ships.

Therefore FM recommends the Immigration Office establishes checks of the foreigners who are working illegally using tourist visas for business.

FM also recommends to PNTL to establish routine checkpoints to check vehicle registration and impound those vehicles without proper original documents and announce to the public that those who have had vehicles stolen can come to the police station to see if their vehicle has been found.

FM also recommends that the government create a law to combat money laundering.  This law can force the banks to report suspicious bank transactions and accounts to the government as suspected money laundering locations.  The government should also set up integrated security systems inside the foreign banks that exist in Timor-Leste as an extra measure of protection against money laundering.

For more information on this issue, please contact

Nélson Belo,

Director of Fundasaun Mahein

Web: www.fundasaunmahein.wordpress.com

Email: direktor.mahein[at]gmail.com

tlp :  +670 737 4222

[1] La’o Hamutuk “Trying to Scam a Billion from the Petroleum Fund” 4 October 2010 http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/PetFund/ACI/10AsianChampInvestment.htm

[2] La’o Hamutuk “Trying to Scam a Billion from the Petroleum Fund” 4 October 2010 http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/PetFund/ACI/10AsianChampInvestment.htm

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