Below is a letter we recently sent to Harvey World Travel, a Dili branch of an Australian company, which refused our check and insisted on payment in cash for a ticket costing more than $3,000. We encourage other businesses and purchasers here to adopt policies discouraging the use of cash for large payments, as this opens opportunities for corruption.
We are writing to inform you that La’o Hamutuk can no longer do business with Harvey World Travel until you are willing to accept checks made out to your company in payment.
Last week, your staff refused to accept a check for $3,352 from La’o Hamutuk in payment of invoice LAO-01, for a ticket to Maputo and back. You asked us to write a letter, and then ignored the letter and obliged La’o Hamutuk’s staff to go to the bank, cash a check, and pay Harvey World Travel in cash.
In order to ensure fiscal integrity, La’o Hamutuk’s policies do not allow us to write a check of more than $100 to “cash” without the payee’s name, or to make such payments in cash. We believe that any organization with sound financial policies would not do this, as it opens a window for possible misappropriation of funds.
Your invoice says that payment is required within 14 days after the ticket and invoice are issued, which would have been ample time for the check we tried to give you before purchasing the ticket to have cleared. However, your staff insisted in advance payment in cash, in violation of your own policy.
As you know, Timor-Leste today is struggling to overcome a culture of corruption dating from Indonesian occupation. We believe it is the responsibility of all members of the business community, as well as civil society organizations and government agencies, to prevent corruption and implement sound fiscal policies.
In the future, we will not purchase tickets from Harvey World Travel until you assure us that you share these concerns, and will accept payment by check.