Timor-Leste Prime Minister to Face Corruption Investigation

Global Integrity
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The president and government ministers in Timor-Leste have voiced their support for Xanana Gusmão, the current prime minister accused of corruption. Opposition leaders have denounced Gusmão’s actions as “cronyism.” And, finally, Xanana Gusmão has spoken publicly on the allegations he faces.

The PM’s first words: “I don’t want to explain any more…”

Yesterday, Gusmão expressed his willingness to submit to an anti-corruption commission review of his controversial tender decision. Radio Australia first broke the news of a potential conflict of interest in late-June, reporting that Gusmão had approved a government contract allowing a company in which his daughter is a major stake-holder to import rice into the country (also known as Est-Timor). As was discussed on the Commons, this investigation has the potential to be a turning point in East-Timor’s anti-corruption politics. Should the investigation, decision-making process and any potential penalties all follow anti-corruption legal procedure, the legitimacy of East-Timor’s anti-corruption commission and the corresponding anti-corruption legal framework will be proven (temporarily) to its citizens and the world.

Unfortunately, Radio Australia’s background research has revealed that according to Timor-Leste procurement law, a conflict of interest was present when Gusmão signed the contract for Prima Food. The law defines ineligibility for companies where political family members have over 10% of shares. Radio Australia reports that Gusmão’s daughter has an 11.1% stake.

Keep an eye on the Commons as we continue to monitor this ongoing investigation.

— Norah Mallaney

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Global Integrity
Global Integrity

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