Bobby Boye: Convict, Advisor and Fraud
16 September 2014. Updated 15 January 2021
Timor-Leste is the most petroleum-export-dependent country in the world, with 95% of state revenues coming from international companies who have contracted with Timor-Leste to extract and market its oil and gas from under the Timor Sea. However, like all for-profit corporations, the companies' primary goal is to maximize returns to their shareholders. One way to do this is to pay as few taxes and royalties as they can get away with, as described on La'o Hamutuk's web page Making the Oil Companies Pay what they Owe.
In late 2009, Norway's aid program recruited Bobby Boye, who said he was an expert in petroleum tax law, to help Timor-Leste receive all the money it is entitled to. For the next three years, Boye advised and defrauded Timor-Leste's Ministry of Finance, as detailed below.
On 19 June 2014, U.S. federal agents arrested Bobby Boye in New Jersey, USA, on charges of defrauding Timor-Leste of more than $3.5 million dollars. According to the FBI, Boye "allegedly deceived [Timor-Leste] representatives into awarding the lucrative contract to Opus & Best Services LLC, a sham New York law and accounting firm that, unbeknownst to [Timor-Leste], was secretly controlled by Boye. ...
After one night in jail, Bobby Boye was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk. In a ten-minute hearing, Boye posted his home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey (right) for the $1.5 million bond, and the judge released him conditionally. Boye had purchased the home in January 2012 for $1.9 million (see 2011 video ad for the house on YouTube). Boye had been trying to sell it since October 2013 for $2.7 million, but it was taken off the market a few days after he was arrested.
The conditions of Boye's pre-trial release, similar to T.I.R. in Timor-Leste, include surrendering his travel documents, not leaving New Jersey without permission, remaining at home except for specified reasons, allowing authorities to monitor his position by GPS, and not having "direct or indirect contact with anyone who is or may be a victim or potential witness."
At a hearing on 2 July, Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor continued (suspended proceedings) the case for 60 days to allow prosecutors and defense attorneys to negotiate a plea bargain "in the interests of justice" and avoid the costs of a trial. La'o Hamutuk wrote to prosecutor Shirley Emehelu on 21 July, urging her to bring the case to trial in order to reveal more information about violations of Timor-Leste and Norwegian law, as well as who may have conspired with Boye. However, on 12 August, Judge Waldor extended the continuance because "both the United States and the defendant desire additional time to negotiate a plea agreement, which would render any grand jury proceedings and any subsequent trial of this matter unnecessary." Judge Waldor extended the continuance for two months more on 21 October. (A new delay has been ordered every two months; see below.)
At the end of October 2014, U.S. attorney Paul Fishman, from the civil division and working with prosecutor Shirley Emehelu, wrote a letter to Judge Waldor with supporting documents showing that the house at 720 Apple Ridge Road should not be used as Boye's bond because it does not fully belong to him. Prior to his arrest in June, Boye had been negotiating a divorce with his wife Ediltruda Kalikawes, and Family Court had stipulated that the house was to be sold, with the money to be divided between them. Boye's defense attorney, the prosecutor and Judge Waldor agreed that Boye should post $500,000 cash bond (when the house is sold, as guaranteed by Ms. Kalikawes' attorney) instead of forfeiting the house, and the judge revised the conditions for his Home Detention. The house was sold on 18 November for $1,850,000. In December 2015, as Boye began serving his prison sentence, the court returned the $500,000 to "a constructive trust for the satisfaction of marital federal tax obligations and for the support and maintenance of Defendant's two minor children."
Fallout from Boye's activities has rippled far and wide. On 18 October, Timor-Leste police arrested Portuguese advisor, consultant and businessman Tiago Guerra, a long-time Dili resident, on suspicion of "money-laundering" $859,000 that he had transferred from Timor-Leste to Macao. His wife Chan Fong Fong Guerra was also detained for a few days, and neither had been not allowed to leave Timor-Leste. There are many rumors (and few confirmed facts) that these arrests are related to activities of their former neighbor, Bobby Boye. Guerra remained in prison for eight months without having had a chance to defend himself. His supporters have created a blog and a Facebook page to urge "that he is treated fairly and his rights are protected and guaranteed." On 15 June 2015, Timor-Leste's Court of Appeals ordered Guerra released from pre-trial imprisonment, but he must report to the authorities every week. In June 2016, Guerra was finally allowed to present his response to the prosecutor's office, but he and his wife are still barred from leaving Timor-Leste.
The trial of Tiago and Fong Fong Guerra began in Dili in February 2017, with four days of testimony reported by LUSA (also Portuguese or Tetum). After testimony by several Ministry of Finance officials, the Guerra's attorney declared that they had not provided evidence to support the indictment for embezzlement, money laundering and document forgery, and the defense declined to present any witnesses. They also argued than the Guerras could not have assisted Boye in the crime of embezzlement, as this crime can only be committed by public servants (he was a consultant), and that relevant Ministry of Finance officials knew of the allegedly illegal wire transfer to the Guerras' account. Their trial resumed in April and concluded in July, although the verdict and sentencing has been delayed repeatedly while the judges hear from Central Bank experts who have not yet been able to explain clearly the technical details of the fund transfer.
In August 2017, Tiago and Fong Fong Guerra were convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison and to repay $859,000, as described in this Case Summary by the Judicial Systems Monitoring Programme. The verdict provoked sharp protests from Jose Ramos-Horta, Members of the European Parliament and others. Although the Guerras indicated their intention to appeal the ruling, in mid-November they illegally left the country, taking a boat to Australia. After a brief detention, they were allowed to go to Portugal, where they joined former Finance Minister Emilia Pires as convicted fugitives from Timor-Leste's judicial system, as described in these newspaper articles.
On 15 January 2021, the Timor-Leste Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in a unanimous decision which was strongly critical of the District Court's ruling. The Appeals court vacated the sentence and the order of restitution. Three other people continue to face charges for facilitating their escape.
Timorese court and tax problems worsen in 2014
Timor-Leste's prosecutors and judges have little expertise in complex financial activities, and the judicial system is in disarray. On 24 October 2014, after Singapore arbitrators ruled against Timor-Leste in several Petroleum Tax cases (some of which were initiated by Boye's work in the Ministry of Finance), Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão persuaded Parliament and the Council of Ministers to immediately terminate the contracts of seven foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators because of force majeure due to their alleged errors. Much has been said and written about this controversy, the Constitutional issues it raises, and its effects on judicial operations, rule of law, nationalism, foreign investment and international relations, but this is a separate issue from the Bobby Boye case.
On 12 November 2014, Bobby Boye filed an affidavit with Judge Waldor claiming that he had no money to pay his defense attorney. After a one-minute hearing, the Judge appointed K. Anthony Thomas from the Office of the Federal Public Defender to represent Boye. This office provides taxpayer-paid lawyers to defend people who are too impoverished to afford to pay for their own defense. Given Boye's history of hiding assets and claiming poverty, we wonder if it is justified. On 16 January 2015, Barbara A. Ward was added to the case as counsel to the U.S. government "with regard to the forfeiture matters," a process which was repeated after his April guilty plea.
On 30 December 2014, Judge Michael A. Hammer delayed the proceedings for another 60 days to wait for a plea-bargain to be negotiated, and on 18 February 2015, Judge Waldor ordered another continuance, until 22 April, because "plea negotiations are currently in process." Judge Waldor ordered another 60-day continuance on 16 April. Unlike the five previous continuances, her order indicated progress: "The parties have entered into a plea agreement and desire additional time for the entry of defendant's guilty plea, which would render any grand jury proceedings and any subsequent trial of this matter unnecessary."
On 12 March 2015, federal prosecutors wrote an eight-page letter to Boye and his public defender attorney describing a plea agreement, and Boye signed the letter a week later. On 28 April, Boye applied to the Court for permission to enter a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as charged in the Prosecutor's "information" document. After Boye's formal waiver of his rights to indictment and trial, Boye pled guilty in a 40-minute hearing (transcript) before Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Federal District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, USA. Boye will be sentenced on 13 August (later delayed until 15 October) and could receive up to 20 years in prison. The FBI issued a press release, and the guilty plea was covered in the U.S. legal and local New Jersey and Bergen County newspapers. Timor-Leste's government issued a press release.
The Prosecutor's ten-page information sheet, which Boye agreed to, describes his work in Timor-Leste (called "Country A") and creation of the sham "established, multinational law and accounting firm" Opus & Best (of which Boye was the sole member). It says that between March 2012 and May 2013, Boye "did knowingly and intentionally conspire and agree with others, known and unknown, to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud Country A by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises ...". Their objective was "for defendant BOYE and others to enrich themselves by fraudulently obtaining lucrative consulting contracts from Country A." Boye "caused" his (now ex-)wife Ediltruda Kalikawes (who is not named or charged) "to create Opus & Best email accounts, including one for a purported partner" 'Dominic Lucas' (also not named or charged -- it's unclear if he actually exists). Boye's bid for contracts with Timor-Leste "contained a number of false statements and material representations that were intended to give Country A the misimpression that Opus & Best was a legitimate, established firm" operating in several continents for many years with "first class talent of attorneys, accountants and economists."
However, the prosecutor writes, "In reality, defendant BOYE created Opus & Best for the purpose of submitting the fraudulent Bid Documents. Moreover, Opus & Best employed no one other than defendant BOYE..." Boye also "paid his [wife] to create a website for Opus & Best which contained numerous misrepresentations ..." (The website (left) remained online through mid 2015.) The prosecutor relates how Boye "exploited his membership on the Bid Review Committee" to "steer" contracts to Opus & Best and then caused Country A to wire $3,510,000 to Boye's bank account between June and December 2012.
In December 2012, Boye invented "Opus & Best Hong Kong" and, with a Hong Kong law firm, tried to get $250,000 more in April 2013. "Country A did not accept the proposal, and defendant BOYE left Country A shortly thereafter." At the end of May, 'Dominic Lucas' unsuccessfully invoiced Timor-Leste for a $630,000 "final payment."
The prosecutor describes how "BOYE diverted" the $3.5 million wired by Timor-Leste to Opus & Best "for his own personal use," including purchase of four properties, three luxury cars and two designer watches. Boye agreed to forfeit these properties, cars and watches, as well as "$4,233,015.42, representing the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offense of conviction."
Boye signed a statement that "I want to plead guilty pursuant to this Plea Agreement." He admits guilt to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to twice the amount of either his ill-gotten gains or the victims' losses, whichever is greater. "In addition, BOBBY BOYE agrees to make full restitution for all losses resulting from the offense of conviction or from the scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity underlying the offense, to [Timor-Leste] in the amount of $3,510,000."
La'o Hamutuk believes that the "pattern of criminal activity underlying the offense" could include payments to Boye for jobs he obtained here under false pretenses. Furthermore, if some of the tax assessments he initiated against oil companies turn out not to be valid, Timor-Leste's legal and other expenditures for them could also be part of this pattern. Boye may have sparked the cases as part of his confidence game to ingratiate himself with Timorese leaders, knowing that the companies were likely to pay and then appeal. These losses could add up to much more than $3.51 million, and Bobby Boye should be required to reimburse Timor-Leste for all these costs. The Plea Agreement does not prevent further administrative or civil cases -- we wonder if Boye will be disbarred from legal practice or if Timor-Leste will file a civil suit against him.
Although the crime of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a 20-year maximum sentence, the Plea Agreement grades it as "offense level 24" under the Sentencing Guidelines, giving him credit for "accepting responsibility." According to the Sentencing Table, and depending on whether Boye's 2006 conviction is considered, he could serve four to six years. On 8 July 2015, Judge Freda L. Wolfson agreed to the request from the prosecutors to delay the sentencing until 15 October (at 11:00 am in Courtroom 5E, US Federal Court, Trenton New Jersey) to allow the parties more time to prepare the Presentence Report.
On 15 July 2015, La'o Hamutuk wrote to the prosecutors to explain that Boye should fully repay Timor-Leste for everything it lost from Boye's scheme. As our letter explains, if the arbitration panel determines that $400 million of the $440 million in tax assessments are not valid, and orders Timor-Leste to pay interest, penalties and the companies' legal costs, this could be $176,000,000 or more, as follows:
The governments of Norway and Timor-Leste have more accurate information on items 1, 2 and 4. The arbitration panel's will decide items 5, 7 and 8, so a more precise figure will be available in the future. In addition to financial losses, Boye's conspiracy damaged the reputation and efficiency of Timor-Leste's leaders, led to violations of the Constitution and affected the nation's reputation among both investors and potential scammers.
On 16 July, Judge Wolfson ordered Boye to forfeit $4,233,015.42 to U.S. authorities, as well as three properties. Boye's cars and other items will be sold to help raise the money. The order, which was agreed to by prosecution and defense attorneys and Boye himself, resulted in a public notice which was published on 8 August. Anyone claiming interest in any of the property which Boye will forfeit has 60 days from then to petition the court.
Boye appeared before Judge Wolfson in Trenton Federal Court on 15 October 2015 and was sentenced (transcript) to a six-year prison term, followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to begin serving his prison time on 30 November, probably at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey, a former U.S. Army base. Several New Jersey media reported on the sentencing (Mahwah man gets six-year sentence for defrauding tiny Asian Nation, $3.5M international con game nets NJ man 6 years in prison), although they added little to the prosecutor's press release. Boye was ordered to pay $3.51 million in restitution to the U.S. Treasury, which will distribute it to Timor-Leste's attorney Pierre-Richard Prosper of the Arent Fox law firm. The payment is due immediately, although a payment schedule may be worked out. The Court generously did not require Boye to pay interest (which could have been a million dollars or more) and ignored La'o Hamutuk's explanation that Boye's crimes cost Timor-Leste at least fifty times more than $3.5 million. La'o Hamutuk blogged on the sentence.
On 27 October, prosecutors published a Notice of Forfeiture listing the three properties which Boye will forfeit: 25 Crescent Hollow Court, Ramsey, NJ; 36 Rosewood Court, North Haledon, NJ; and 140 Grove Street, Elizabeth, NJ. Anyone else who claims these properties has two months to protest.
In early December, Attorney Zahid Quraishi notified the court that Boye owes the Crescent Hollow Condominium Association at least $166,861 in relation to 25 Crescent Hollow Court, mostly from damage when a frozen pipe broke and flooded nearby property in February 2015, while the house was empty. A settlement was accepted in June 2016, and the Association could receive about $70,000 in attorney's fees and uninsured damages from Boye's assets. Skip down for more on the forfeiture aspect of this case.
On 7-8 May 2015, Dili media published confused articles quoting the Prosecutor-General that his office was investigating two foreigners, "DG" (or TG) and "MF" (or FF) in relation to Boye's admission of guilt. We do not know if this refers to Tiago Guerra and Fong Fong. Despite public calls to investigate Timorese citizens, including public officials, who may have been part of Boye's conspiracy, the prosecutor only mentioned foreigners. Guerra had been arrested in October 2014 and was imprisoned until July 2015, without formal charges being filed. Guerra maintains his innocence and was not allowed to defend himself in court until 2017, but is still barred from leaving Timor-Leste. Like everyone else, he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. (See above for more on the Guerra case.)
On 16 November 2015, Boye hired attorney Michael Confusione to represent him, terminating public defender K Anthony Thomas. Boye explained that Thomas had not responded to his wish to appeal the Final Judgment, and he needed time to raise funds to hire a private lawyer. Confusione requested a 30-day extension to the time limit for filing an appeal. On 18 November, Boye paid the court $505 in appeal fees.
On 25 November, Boye's new attorney filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District explaining that Boye intends to argue that his six-year sentence should be reduced to "as little as two months imprisonment, and possibly non-imprisonment," and asked the court to process their appeal quickly, as Boye had been ordered to report for prision 30 November. They claimed that the actual loss to Timor-Leste was much less than the $3.51 million fraud because Timor-Leste had received legal services in return for the money they paid, and that therefore a much shorter sentence was appropriate. Download key documents in this process with both sides' arguments.
The U.S. Attorney disagreed, explaining that Boye had "lied to his victim that those services would be provided by licensed attorneys and accountants." They also argued against reducing the sentence, urging that the appeal process be terminated because the plea bargain agreement had effectively waived Boye's right to appeal.
On 21 December, the Appellate Court Clerk ordered Boye to file the Appeal Brief by 21 January 2016, the prosecutors to respond within three weeks after that, and that any reply from Boye must come within two weeks after that response. On 12 January, the court verbally granted two weeks more, until 3 February, to file the Appeal Brief.
In early January, the District (lower) court scheduled "ancillary hearings" for 18 February 2016. The court later rescheduled them to 8 March, and again to 30 March at 10:00 AM in Trenton - Courtroom 5E.
On 21 January, Boye's attorney Michael Confusione and the Prosecutor filed opposing motions. Confusione argued against summary dismissal of the appeal, claiming that the long sentence was a "miscarriage of justice" because the District Court had calculated the loss to the victim incorrectly and Boye's previous legal counsel had been "ineffective" in not raising this issue. He promised to file a full Appellant's Brief and Appendix by 3 February. U.S. Attorneys Paul Fishman and Glenn Moramarco responded that Confusione's "assertion of a Guidelines calculation error is wholly unsupported by any argument, any case law, or any facts." They explained that Timor-Leste's Government had requested restitution of $5.48 million and that Boye said was too high, although he agreed to $3.51 million. Confusione rebutted the prosecutors' argument. La'o Hamutuk shared our analysis of the $176 million cost of Boye's scheme with the prosecutor handling the appeal.
On 25 January, Attorney Confusione filed a 95-page document with the Court of Appeals, including a 49-page argument about why Boye's sentence should be reduced, as well as the amount of restitution he should be required to repay Timor-Leste. The core of his case is that the value of the work Boye provided to Timor-Leste should be subtracted from the payments he fraudulently received. Confusione also filed a four-volume Appendix (more than 300 pages) of documents relating to Boye's work in Timor-Leste, as well as several documents relating to Boye's sentencing, but these have not been made public.
On 28 January, three Court of Appeals judges rejected Boye's appeal. They ruled that by signing the plea bargain he had waived his right to appeal and reaffirmed the six-year prison sentence imposed by the lower court. Their one-sentence order reads "The foregoing motion to enforce appellate waiver and for summary affirmance is granted." On 19 February, the Court of Appeals officially transmitted their decision to the District Court.
In late 2015, Boye began serving his 72-month prison sentence at Fort Dix Correctional Institution in New Jersey. If he behaves himself, he could have his sentence reduced by about 10 months for "good conduct time" and is scheduled to be released on 18 February 2021.
On 8 December 2015, the District Court cancelled Boye's "recognizance number", and on 17 December they ordered that his $500,000 cash bail be returned to a trust fund for his "marital federal tax obligations and for the support and maintenance of [Boye's] two minor children." It is therefore not available to be included in restitution to be paid to Timor-Leste. On 2 February 2016, the prosecutor informed the court that adequate public notice had been given to possible claimants against the property which Boye will forfeit.
On 18 April 2016, U.S. Attorney Peter W. Gaeta as added to the prosecution team.
On 15 June 2016, the U.S. Attorney's office submitted a proposed settlement to pay some of Boye's forfeited assets to the Crescent Hollow Condominium Association in connection with the house at 25 Crescent Hollow Court (see above). The stipulation, which was accepted by Judge Wolfson the following day, will award around $70,000 to the Association for uninsured damages, attorney's fees and back dues. This money will come from forfeited assets which would have been paid to Timor-Leste as restitution for losses from Boye's crimes.
On 4 May, attorney Anthony Velasquez, representing Public Tax Investments, claimed that PTI has a right to some of Boye's forfeited assets because PTI had purchased $30,000 of Boye's unpaid property tax debt for 140 Grove Street from the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey in June 2015. Velasquez notified the court that he intended to ask for a hearing on the forfeiture order, and attached a Memorandum of Law, Certification, proposed alternative order and proof of service. The court set a deadline for 5 June to decide on the forfeiture, but on 18 May this process was suspended after the U.S. attorney acknowledged that the tax lien will remain in effect, regardless of the forfeiture. On 7 August 2017, the U.S. attorney asked to correct the forfeiture order, removing this property from the forfeiture because it "has insufficient equity to justify forfeiture" -- in other words, is worth less than the unpaid tax debt, and on 13 August the judge took this property off the list of assets to be forfeited, and the official process was done in November.
On 13 June, the Court served the order of Forfeiture on the U.S. Marshalls Service.
On 26 June, attorney Robert del Vecchio, representing US Bank as custodian for "BV Trust 2015-1", filed a request for a hearing because BV Trust 2015-1 had purchased $51,000 of Boye's property tax debt for 36 Rosewood Court from the Borough of North Haledon. They asked that this debt, with interest, be paid to them when the U.S. government sells property confiscated from Boye. As of 22 June, the amount had increased to $108,744.
In October 2017, following several proposals, stipulations and public notifications, the court finalized the forfeiture of houses owned by Boye at 36 Rosewood Court, North Haledon and 25 Crescent Hollow Court, Ramsey New Jersey.
Boye's trials concluded around the same time as the disputes over the tax assessments he instigated against ConocoPhillips and other oil companies were resolved. The companies were dissatisfied with 2013 rulings by courts in Timor-Leste, and appealed to arbitration in Singapore. Timor-Leste refunded $25 million to Woodside in February 2015, but most cases remained unresolved until Timor-Leste and ConocoPhillips jointly announced the settlement of "several significant tax disputes" in February 2016, and the arbitration panel ruled on the remaining dispute the following month. Timor-Leste began refunding over-collected taxes by deducting them from Bayu-Undan's monthly royalty and tax payments, which continued through February 2017. La'o Hamutuk understands that the total amount returned to ConocoPhillips is around $200 million, with tens of millions more going to other oil companies. Refunded taxes totaled around $219 million in 2016 and about $40 million in 2017.
Another page on this website has more about the tax cases.
On 28 September 2016, Bobby Boye and his attorney Michael Confusione filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Federal Court to "vacate his sentence on the ground that defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his rights under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, and schedule a new sentencing hearing." The motion was accompanied by a 158-page Memorandum of Law and 1,200 pages, including 23 Exhibits (39 MB compilation). The documents reveal more about Boye's work for Timor-Leste (including bids, bid evaluations and contracts), his emails with Timorese officials and attorney Pierre Prosper, and his trial and sentencing than was previously available to the public.
The motion argues that Boye performed useful work under the contracts that Timor-Leste awarded to his nonexistent company Opus and Best, so that the total losses suffered by Timor-Leste are less than the $3.51 million paid for those contracts. Since the length of his sentence and the amount of restitution he was must repay to Timor-Leste are based on the $3.51 million figure, Boye wants this number re-calculated and the sentence reduced based on a lower amount of losses. Boye claims that he asked his defense attorney, taxpayer-paid Assistant Federal Public Defender K. Anthony Thomas, to raise this issue during his trial and sentencing, but that Thomas did not do so effectively. As described in the motion: "Counsel [Anthony Thomas] failed to cite and argue federal law governing calculation of the "loss" caused by defendant's conspiracy crime, failed to produce evidence regarding the "loss" before the sentencing court, and counseled defendant to accept a plea that “stipulated” a loss figure that was contrary to governing federal law and the actual facts of this case. Counsel failed to submit to the District Court the work products that defendant provided to Timor-Leste (the alleged victim) in exchange for the payments received under the three contracts with Timor-Leste. ..."
As discussed above, La'o Hamutuk estimates that Timor-Leste suffered financial, political and reputational damage from Boye's crimes totalling more than $100 million, although U.S. courts have yet not considered the total costs.
On 3 November, Judge Wolfson rejected the prosecutor's request for summary dismissal of Boye's motion to overturn his sentence. She directed the prosecutors to answer the motion within 45 days, and gave Boye's attorney 30 days after that to reply.
On 7 December, the prosecutor asked for additional time, and Judge Wolfson accepted the request the next day. The new schedule is for the prosecutor to respond to Boye's motion by 17 March 2017, with Boye's attorney to reply by 20 April. On 1 March, Boye filed a supplemental certification to support his petition to vacate the sentence. This 18-page document describes his hiring by Norway and later by the Ministry of Finance, the value of the work he performed while at the Ministry of Finance, and the incompetence of his trial attorney. On 7 March, the prosecutor asked for more time to respond to these new allegations, and on 15 March Judge Wolfson extended the time.
On 6 April, the prosecutor filed a 141-page response to Boye's lawsuit, including more than 80 pages of court transcripts from the 2015 plea and sentencing hearings of Boye's original trial. Boye and his attorney filed a 45-page response on 12 May, arguing that "the monumental errors [Boye's trial Attorney Thomas] committed" made it "inconceivable and shocking" for the government to argue that Boye was effectively represented at his trial.
On 12 May 2017, Boye filed a 36-page response (with 10 more pages of documents) to the U.S. attorney's argument that his sentence should not be vacated.
Nearly a year later, the Judge had not issued a decision on the case. Boye's attorney wrote to the court on 21 March 2018, pointing out that Boye is "nearing the halfway point of his prison sentence" and asking the Court to rule on his petition to reduce the sentence "as soon as possible." He wrote a similar letter on 2 August saying "While waiting for the Court’s decision on his Petition, defendant has served more than one-half his sentence of imprisonment. Defendant’s 2255 Petition is close to being rendered moot", but there had been no decision by late September.
Boye's attorney appealed the rejection of the petition on vacating the sentence on 5 December, and Judge Wolfson responded that it is not appealable. Nevertheless, despite some procedural issues, Boye applied for a Certificate of Appealability on 31 December. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has consolidated 1,300 pages of documents and exhibits relating to the case.
On 11 January 2019, Attorney Confusione filed a notice of appearance, and on 4 April the judges granted a Certificate of Appealability and issued a Briefing Notice, allowing the appeal to proceed. On 10 May, the judges granted Boye a two-week extension, and his attorney filed his appeal brief on 24 May 2019. The U.S. Attorney responded on 22 August, and Boye replied on 12 September. The three-judge panel announced that it would discuss the case on 22 November, but there was no oral argument and the notes are not public.
Five months later, on 22 April 2020, Judges Michael Chagares, Paul Matey and Julio Fuentes of the U.S. Third Circuit filed their non-precedential opinion and judgment. They reaffirmed the lower court ruling rejecting Boye's lawsuit, so his sentence is still in effect. They concluded that "Boye cannot show that his attorney's allegedly deficient performance prejudiced him", and pointed out that "In no scenario would Boye's loss amount be zero, as he contends, and he has failed to set forth the purported off-set amount to show that his sentence would have been materially impacted, or that he would have been on stronger plea bargaining grounds. Additionally, any potential lower offense level could easily be negated by other benefits that Boye received in the agreed upon plea deal." On 16 June, the Court of Appeals informed the District Court of the opinion and judgment.
After serving his sentence, Boye was released from Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey on 7 January 2021, after more than five years behind bars.
Much of the following section (with blue background) comes from an article by Carl Alfred Dahl published on 23 August 2014 in Aftenposten in Norwegian, and a shorter version two days later in English. Some photos and links are from Aftenposten, although La'o Hamutuk has added more. Information added by La'o Hamutuk has a white background. Click on most graphics to see them larger.
Additional sources used by La'o Hamutuk: U.S. Bankruptcy Court and U.S. District Court of New Jersey dockets on PACER, FINRA report, Norwegian Foreign Ministry website, interviews with RDTL Ministry of Finance and other staff and advisors, TL Procurement Portal, RDTL Ministry of Finance website (documents downloaded and saved in 2012).
On 9 September 2014, an article by Tom Allard in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that ConocoPhillips knew about Boye's record long before Timor-Leste's government learned of it. The company's interest was piqued in 2010 by the 'uncanny accuracy' of La'o Hamutuk's web page on back petroleum taxes, and their background research on Boye revealed some of his shameful history. (Although La'o Hamutuk did talk with Boye occasionally during that time, we received information from many other public, official and unofficial sources.) After Boye was arrested, people close to Timor-Leste's petroleum tax system told us that they had concerns about Boye and Opus & Best years ago, but that his trust by high officials prevented them from being acted upon. Indeed, some of the above history can be found on the internet in a few minutes.
On 10 September, the SMH published another article by Allard describing Timor-Leste's allegations about Roger Maguire, an Australian advisor to the tax department in Timor-Leste's Ministry of Finance in 2010-2011. After Maguire left Timor-Leste, ConocoPhillips paid him $120,000 to help develop the company's evidence in the tax arbitration cases. Timor-Leste's attorney Pierre Prosper alleged that Maguire had been a "mole" for the company while he was ostensibly working for Timor-Leste.
We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available (see above for the current status).
The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)