232 Lord Stanley, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 69 LONDON, 22 July 1938, 8.19 p.m.


Your telegram No. 69 18th July, Secret. [1] Timor Oil Concessions.

Wittouck [2] is now in London and is requesting the support of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on behalf of Asia Investments Company which he claims is a British Company registered in Hong Kong. He states that under Portuguese law rights vested in this Company cover the entire oil rights of Timor with the exception of Staughton concessions [3] previously granted, that through Abbott, Tout and Creer, Solicitors, Sydney, the Company has[4] Timor Oil Limited aforementioned Staughton concessions and that his Company's concessions therefore cover complete oil rights of Portuguese Timor. He has informed the Portuguese Government and His Majesty's Ambassador at Lisbon [5] that he actually represents Australian interests but in a letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [6] he merely states 'he is fully conversant with the wishes of the Australian Government.' Wittouck states that the Portuguese Government made it clear to him that they 'could not treat with him as regards concessions desired by Australia' in the absence of confirmation of the statement that he represented 'the Australian interests'. He informed His Majesty's Ambassador that interested parties in Australia had handed over their interests to him and that he was prepared to produce correspondence.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs feels that it is advisable, before considering reply to Wittouck's request for interview or action in the sense desired in your telegram No. 69, to ascertain from you how much credence should be extended to Wittouck's statement and whether the Australian Companies mentioned in your telegram have a better claim to support than such Australian interests as Mr Wittouck may be found on investigation to be formally empowered to represent.

As Mr Wittouck is pressing for an interview before 31st July I should be grateful for an early reply to this telegram.

1 Document 230.

2 See Document 49, note 3.

3 See Document 49, note 1.

4 Another Version of this cablegram has the additional words 'purchased from' at this point. See file AA : A1608, L52/1/1.

5 Sir Walford Selby.

6 Viscount Halifax.

[AA : A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, iii]