Posted on 11 January 2019.
Dili, Timor-Leste, October 2018. Timor-Leste, one of the world's youngest and poorest Asian countries, remains in a position of fragile statehood. Around 41% of the population lives below the basic needs poverty line. Given the weak regulatory and institutional framework, Timor-Leste is exposed to being targeted as a layering country in global money-laundering schemes, as well as losing public monies through corruption, embezzlement and tax evasion, especially in relation to the extraction of oil in the country. Building on the World Bank estimate that the countries lose 1.5% to 2% of GDP annually due to corruption, in other terms, Timor-Leste loses approximately 60 million USD annually due to corruption.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (CAC) in Timor-Lestewas established in 2009 and while being primarily tasked with the prevention of corruption, the Commission is also developing its investigative capacities. To support the capacity building of CAC's prevention and investigation department, UNODC has been conducting a national anti-corruption project aimed at enhancing the capacity of national authorities in fighting corruption.
Within this context and building on previous training workshops, investigators and prosecutors from CAC, Scientific Police, the Prosecutor General Office and the Financial Intelligence Unit participated in November 2018 in a three-day training on Advanced Criminal and Financial investigations and Inter-agency coordination for complex, cross-border corruption cases.
The training was designed to provide specialized skills and tools for investigators and prosecutors for handling complex corruption cases that involve financial transaction, and contributed to enhance the investigative skills of national anti-corruption authorities by providing an investigative planning and management matrix. It further enhanced the channels of direct cooperation amongst key institutions, and facilitated the discussion on international principles in financial investigations, the use of financial documents, identification of suspicious transactions, their reporting and links to money laundering. In a financial investigation practice, investigators worked on mock cases; they were required to gather evidence, trace money and identify beneficial owners.
This training series comes timely for Timor-Leste as the government is currently rethinking its investment and exploration options of the oil field off the Timorese coast and given the recent case of suspected embezzlement of state revenues from the natural resource sector.
In Timor-Leste, UNODC is also providing technical assistance to strengthen the legal framework against corruption. In November 2018, a national roundtable was facilitated by UNODC to support the development of the draft Anti-Corruption Law, which will be debated soon in Parliament. In addition, UNODC is engaged to support the development of the national anti-corruption strategy in the country, together with CAC. Earlier this year, UNODC provided a series of recommendations and raised awareness among national authorities and parliamentarians on the need to develop an effective legal framework for the protection of reporting persons.