Thursday, August 19, 2010

Indonesian Tax Official Gets 6.5 Years in Jail for Corruption

Jakarta. The Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday jailed unrepentant tax official Edi Setiadi for six-and-a-half years for his role in a Rp 81.43 billion ($8.9 million) tax evasion case involving a provincial government-owned bank in West Java between 2001 and 2002.

Edi, a former chief tax investigator at the West Java Tax Office in Bandung, manipulated the tax returns of lender PT Bank Jabar-Banten in exchange for Rp 2.55 billion in bribes, the court presided over by Judge Nina Indrawati ruled.

The court also instructed Edi to pay a fine of Rp 200 million. Edi faces an additional six months imprisonment for failing to pay the fine.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) previously said the tax fraud amounted to Rp 44.3 billion, but the court estimated that based on witness testimony the figure amounted to Rp 81.43 billion in state losses.

KPK prosecutors had sought 12 years imprisonment, alleging that in 2001, Bank Jabar was supposed to have paid Rp 129.2 billion in taxes, which Edi slashed to Rp 74 billion. In 2002, the lender owed the state Rp 51.8 billion, which Edi again reduced to Rp 25.57 billion, prosecutors said.

Judge Sofialdi, however, said in the verdict that the court viewed Edi’s actions as a single act of graft done repeatedly and not two separate instances of graft, as the prosecution had argued.

According to the Criminal Code, a defendant charged with two corruption offenses could face a combined sentence.

“The defendant had not admitted to his crime. The defendant had also marred the credibility of the taxation office and betrayed people’s trust towards the institution,” Sofialdi said.

Both sides have seven days to lodge an appeal with the Jakarta High Court.

“As much as I respect the court’s decision, I am not satisfied with the ruling and choose to lodge an appeal,” Edi told presiding Judge Nani after she delivered the guilty verdict.

Edi maintained that he had become a victim of a conspiracy to frame him by his former subordinates.

Lead prosecutor Rudi Margono said that they were also filing an appeal.

The KPK last month named four of Edi’s former subordinates suspects for conspiring in the crime. They include Roy Yuliandri, Dedy Suwardi, Muhammad Yazid and Dien Rajana Mulya.

Edi is alleged to have taken Rp 565 million from the Rp 2.55 billion kickback and given remainder to the four others.

The KPK has also named former Bank Jabar chief accountant Hery Achmad Buchori a suspect in the case.

Former Bank Jabar director Umar Syrifudin has already been convicted in the case and sentenced to seven years in prison.


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