Subject: SMH: Fretilin Blamed for East Timor Corruption

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday, May 11, 2009

Charges Fly Over Corruption in Timor

by Lindsay Murdoch in Darwin

THE East Timorese Government has admitted that corrupt officials are "well established" in areas such as tax, customs and procurement as a row deepens over highly paid foreign advisers.

The Finance Minister, Emilia Pires, blames the opposition Fretilin party for the corruption, saying the Government is under attack because of "our refusal to partake in the corrupt practices of a small few".

"There is no corruption in my office except for that which was established by the former [Fretilin] government and it is being stamped out slowly, which is why the Ministry of Finance is now the target of these unwarranted attacks," Ms Pires said.

For weeks Fretilin, the largest political party, which lost power in 2007, has alleged growing corruption in government departments in Dili, particularly the Ministry of Finance.

The party leaked documents to Timorese journalists last month revealing that foreign advisers in East Timor, some of them Australian, were being paid more than Australia's Prime Minister.

Fretilin yesterday asked the Prosecutor-General, Ana Pessoa, to investigate claims of a vendetta against an Australian adviser in the Finance Ministry, Graham Daniel, over what he is paid.

Ms Pires will today release documents in Dili showing that when Fretilin was in power it authorised salaries to foreign advisers as high as $US568,000. Some of the contracts were paid from Fretilin's state budget while most of the present foreign advisers in Dili are on World Bank contracts.

Australian business people have complained about the awarding of contracts. The Government awarded a $US400 million contract to a Chinese Government-owned company to build two power plants without calling for open tenders.

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