07 February 2013

Another former Minister faces criminal fraud charges

Gil Aves. Photo: MTCI (East Timor Government)
ETLJB 06/02/2012 -  According to a report in the Timor Post published on 6 February 2013, the Public Prosecutor has accused the former Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry (MTCI) Gil da Costa Alves with the crime of fraud alleging he used US$195,000 of the political party, ASDT*, party funds for his personal benefit.

The proceedings are being presided over by the judicial panel comprised of Judges Jose Maria de Araujo, Duarte Tilman and Julio Gantes. The Public Prosecutor’s office is being represented by Prosecutor Jose Ximenes who has accused the former Minister Gil Alves of this crime during the time he assumed the position of Secretary General of the party at a time when the now-deceased ASDT President Francisco Xavier do Amaral was still alive.

After the former ASDT President passed away, the accused became entitled according to the party constitution to assume the post of President until an extraordinary party congress elected the new president.  Upon assuming the presidency on the 12th of April 2012, it is alleged that the accused sent a letter to the National Electoral Commission (CNE) directing it to transfer the campaign assistance funds ASDT was entitled to receive to an account opened by the accused and his group.

The CNE transferred the funds accordingly to the bank account in question, but in the time leading up to the ASDT party extraordinary congress held in Dare on 27-28 April, it is further alleged that the accused and others decided not to participate in the congress and authorised the transfer of the amount of US$195,000 from the account, and on 31 May 2012 continued to transfer funds from the party’s bank account held with the Indonesian bank Mandiri in the amount of US$45,000.

The accused persons had previously been notified by the Court of Appeal of its decision that the Extraordinary Congress that had been convened by the accused was not valid and that the deliberations of the Congress held in Dare on 27-28 April were valid and that Joao Correia was elected president of the party. However, the accused continued to ignore the court’s decision and allegedly withdrew the party’s funds from the bank account and used the funds for other purposes.

Based on the alleged facts, the Public Prosecutor charged several persons of the crime of fraud under article 267, line 4 of the Criminal Code.  Gil Alves chose to remain silent and let his lawyer speak for him after having heard the charges read out against him by the court, but one of the accused named Henrique decided he wanted to make representations on his own behalf to the court.

It is reported that Henrique said that some of the accusations were correct, but there were also many that were not, because the moneys had not been withdrawn to be used for private purposes but for party activities.

“We used this money to pay debts that had been incurred through party activities for over the previous year, and though we knew that the Court of Appeal decision had been made, our signatures remained on the accounts so we continued to withdraw money to pay for the party’s debts,” the accused declared to the Dili District Court on Tuesday 5 February 2013.

The accused Henrique added that although some of the money had been used to pay for party activities, they were able to hand over the remainder to the President of ASDT Joao Correia the amount of US$45,000.00 in cash, and US$5,000.00 credit balance that remained in the Party’s bank account. Original text in Tetum. Source: Timor Post 6/2/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright

*Editor's Note: Associação Social-Democratica Timorense (Timorese Social Democratic Association). Both the original ASDT of the 1970s (which became FRETILIN) and the current party of the same name were founded by first Timorese President Francisco Xavier do Amaral. ASDT lost its representation in the Parliament in the 2012 election.

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