|Ong's offer was too good to be true.|
|Page one of the 3-page IAB memo|
In November 2009, La’o Hamutuk learned about this attempt to scam the Petroleum Fund, and researched ACI, which may or may not exist. Our repeated requests for information from the Banking and Payments Authority (BPA), IAB and Ministry of Finance were declined or ignored. The Ministry asked us to delay publishing, which we did, although their promised information never came. The issue was mentioned several times on the BPA website, and La'o Hamutuk raised it in a BPA press conference, but local and international media never picked up on it, demonstrating that transparency also requires attention.
The IAB discussed the ACI proposal at meetings on 18 September, 23 October, 11 and 20 November (including responding to an email from La'o Hamutuk) and 15 December 2009 (at which time the IAB Chairman incorrectly "noted that the Minister had responded to La'o Hamutuk's request for further information"). More information became available only this week, with the publication of the 2009 Annual Report on the Petroleum Fund, with its legally-required annex of all advice given by the IAB to the Minister.
Timor-Leste’s successful defense against this attempt to steal one-fourth of our Petroleum Fund shows the importance of strong laws and institutions, clear processes, defined criteria, and professional decision-making. La’o Hamutuk appreciates the diligence and attention of the people and organs involved, and we hope that these strengths are maintained. It also shows that our Petroleum Fund is a tempting target, and that many unscrupulous characters will be attracted by what they perceive as “easy money.”