East Timor's prime minister Xanana Gusmão. Image courtesey of Radioacbd/Youtube.

East Timor has ordered eight foreign judiciary officials to leave the country after court rulings were handed down in favor of ConocoPhillips for cases involving $236 million in disputed taxes.

The government passed a resolution earlier this week that revoked work visas from five foreign judges, two foreign prosecutors and an anti-corruption adviser.

The foreign officials have 48 hours to leave the country, the Australian Broadcast Channel news said.

East Timor’s foreign minister Jose Luis Guterres said the resolution was passed to “”protect the interests of our people.”

Houston-based ConocoPhillips has been challenging 28 cases brought by the government that claim the company owes over $200 million in taxes.

ConocoPhillips has won all seven cases that have been decided so far.

The company said it has paid all required taxes and has also paid all taxes, interest and penalties leveled by the government “under protest,” Reuters said.

East Timor enlisted the services of international judges and prosecutors to build up its judicial system after winning independence in 2002.

However, prime minister Xanana Gusmao has not been satisfied with the rulings these judges have made including the recent rulings in favor of ConcoPhillips.

ConocoPhillips operates the Bayu Undan gas field in the Timor Sea between East Timor and Australia. Royalties from the field are a primary source of revenue for East Timor.


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