FRETILIN demands de facto PM Gusmao to sack his Deputy

Media Release

Dili, 11 -04-2008

FRETILIN PARLIAMENTARY GROUP

The FRETILIN parliamentary group, using documentary evidence, demanded in the National Parliament this Tuesday (8 April 2008) that de facto Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao sack his deputy, Jose Luis Guterres, and that he initiate an investigation into transfers authorized by Mr Guterres of public funds to increase his wife’s salary as a diplomat in New York, whilst he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

MP Ilda Da Conceicao raised the matter on behalf of the FRETILIN parliamentary group.

“In February this year FRETILIN first raised this matter in the parliament regarding Mr Jose Luis Guterres for his action as Foreign Minister in authorizing the Ministry of Finance to transfer an extremely high salary to his wife who was then employed at Timor-Leste’s UN mission in New York, USA,” she said.

“FRETILIN considers this case to be grave given that it involved an abuse of power, corruption and nepotism,” said Da Conceicao.

When FRETILIN presented this case in February, other MPs demanded proof, and so FRETILIN presented proof by way of the following excerpt from an email written by Mr Guterres’ wife herself in June 2007:

“The transfers made into my personal account by the Ministry of Finance to date were respectively $10,673.33 on 24 November (being for the first quarter) 2006, $8,005.00 on 11 January (being for the second quarter) and $18,667.14 on 11 April (being for the third quarter) which can certainly be verified with the Ministry of Finance. I only became aware at the time I sought verification that by law, even though I possess a Timorese Diplomatic passport, I do not have citizenship rights because I have not lived in Timor-Leste for a minimum of eight years. For this reason I could not be classified as a Diplomat for contractual purposes nor for entitlements.”

MP Ilda Da Conceicao explained: “Mr Jose Luis Guterres, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, knew that his wife, as a foreigner, could not be appointed as a diplomat at the Timor-Leste mission in New York. So why did he make this decision? Is this not an abuse of power, corruption and nepotism?

“We also know that Mr Guterres’ wife used the funds to purchase a grand piano in the US,” said Da Conceicao.

The FRETILIN MP also explained that the government, headed by His Excellency Mr. Jose Alexandre Gusmao already knew of this case, but until now, has not done anything. Why? This shows that the government does not have transparency in its affairs and lacks integrity. It shows clearly that the government is covering up one of its members.

“We from FRETILIN requested the parliament executive to take this matter up with the government but until now we have not heard anything further,” said Da Conceicao.

“Once again we demand H E Mr Jose Alexandre Gusmao as head of the government to dismiss Mr. Jose Luis Guterres from the government and initiate an investigation into this case of his authorization of transfers of funds to increase his wife’s salary as a diplomat in New York,” Da Conceicao concluded.

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