Thursday, August 19, 2010

Police play down KPC alleged tax bribery

The National Police gave a lukewarm response to calls for an investigation following an allegation of a giant coal mining company’s bribing of tax officials.

The allegation was delivered in the testimony of defendant Gayus Tambunan, a former low-ranking tax officer, who said Tuesday he had received US$500,000 from PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC).

Head of public relations unit Sr. Comr. Marwoto Soeto said Wednesday the testimonies were not enough to trigger detectives to begin an investigation. “Still, it’s only a testimony [although it was presented before court]. We need supporting evidence,” he said.

Marwoto, however, vowed that police detectives would not ignore the testimony if also voiced by other witnesses and supported by evidence.

The KPC was one among companies mentioned by Gayus as the sources of his wealth. The latest finding showed that Gayus stored Rp 60 billion in cash in safety boxes, adding to the Rp 28 billion in his bank account.

Head of the National Police Center of Internal Monitoring, Brig. Gen. Budi Waseso said testimonies before the court were not necessarily the truth. “Everybody can produce words, but we need facts.”

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said the police had no plan to summon representatives from the companies that allegedly bribed Gayus. “There are already too many companies implicated in the case.”

Gayus became connected with the KPC, partly owned by the family of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, through middleman Alif Kuncoro.

Gayus’ role in helping Bakrie’s firms emerged in June when police documents containing Gayus’ testimonies during police questioning was leaked to the press.

Gayus testified to police that he had received money transfers from around 44 companies including three firms affiliated with Bakrie — PT Bumi Resources and its units KPC and PT Arutmin.

During a police questioning in early April, Gayus received US$500,000 from the KPC, $500,000 from Bumi and $2 million jointly from the KPC and Arutmin. Following the revelation, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo gave the National Police approval to examine the tax returns of the implicated companies but no action has been made by the police.

A member of the National Police Commission, Adnan Pandu Pradja, urged the police to begin investigating the case instead of waiting for evidence.

In June, police detectives questioned Bumi’s vice president of finance Deny Adrian. Deny, who was close to Alif, reportedly met with Gayus several times at the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotels, and Dapur Sunda Restaurant in Jakarta, to discuss how to settle the company’s tax problems.

Brig. Gen. Yovianes Mahar, a director at the National Police detective body, however, said detectives had not found sufficient evidence to link Deny to the case. Alif now stands trial for bribing detective Comr. Arafat Enanie with a Harley Davidson bike.

His role as a middleman for several companies has been left untouched by the court. Bumi spokesman Dileep Srivastava has called the allegations baseless. “Bumi’s reporting has always been transparent, audited and publicized. Our tax status is clear,” he said.

Secretary-general of Transparency International Indonesia Teten Masduki said he was not sure the police would seriously investigate the companies due to Bakrie’s ownership. Aburizal is now head of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s joint secretariat of coalition parties.


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