Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gayus Captured in Singapore as Investigation Widens

Former tax officer Gayus Tambunan, accused for corrupting tax payers money of up to Rp 28 billion, was captured in Singapore on Tuesday night in a five star hotel located in Orchard Road as the finance ministry widens investigation on possible similar case at the tax office.
Detik.com reported the police in cooperation with task force to eradicate ‘case brokers’ (mafia) spotted Gayus in the hotel. They rounded the hotel where Gayus is staying. Gayus later surrendered. Gayus is expected to be brought home today.
Gayus Tambunan has not come to his office since March 23. Gayus and his wife left Indonesia to Singapore on March 24 after the case broke into the media. Gayus has luxury houses in Kelapa Gading, an apartment and luxury vehicals. Gayus left for Singapore using fake name Gayus Hamoloan Partahanan.
Gayus case hit headlines after former national detective chief Susno Duadji revealed that two senior police officers have suspected to have received bribe in return for dropping Gayus case. The Tangerang district court later (March 12) issued verdict to acquit Gayus from corruption and money laundering case. Susno was suspicious because Gayus bank account, which has earlier been frozen, was unblocked. Around Rp24.5 billion was later withdrawn from Gayus’ account and was suspected to have been distributed to police investigators and related parties.
Some say judges may have also get the money. However, Antara quoted the Supreme Court (MA) spokesperson Nurhadi that it had found no indications of bribery behind tax official Gayus Tambunan`s acquittal by the Tangerang district court recently.
"Our conclusion is that there were no indications of bribery in the court ruling in Gayus`s case," MA spokesman Nurhadi said.
Meanwhile, Finance Ministry on Tuesday suspended some colleagues of Gayus to allow the tax office to conduct internal investigation. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has also ordered tax officers to report their wealth.
Director General for Taxation Mochamad Tjiptardjo admitted that about three divisions at the tax department that are prone to such manipulation practices between tax officers and tax payers, i.e. account representative, directorate for examination and asset seizure as well as directorate for tax objection. “The Gayus case prompts us to tighten internal control,” Tjiptarjo said.
In related development, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) caught a judge, Ibrahim, for accepting a bribe of around Rp300 million over a land dispute case. The KPK officials seized the money from him after he received it from lawyers, representing a client. (by Roffie Kurniawan)

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Monday, March 29, 2010

NU & The Civil Society

The 32th national congress of muslim largest organization Nahdlatul Ulama in Makassar ended on Sunday with appointment of new NU head KH Said Aquil Siradj for the period of 2010-2015. His tagline campaign ‘Kembali ke Pesantren’ or Return To Pesantren helped him to gain majority votes.
Abdus Sair, secretary of a youth organization GPNU, said the new NU board will face both external and internal challenges. Externally, NU has to encounter radicalism, Islam sectarian and terrorism issues. Internally, the new NU board will have to deal with some NU elites' move may take advantage of their position in NU for personal political interest. NU should return to its basic essence – i.e. focusing on religious and societal issues, in particular grassroot supporters of NU, who mostly live in rural areas and do not have economic access.
Some prominent figures of NU feared that the the new NU board might be ‘coopted’ by the State Palace, referring to the SBY government. The head of Pesantren (muslim boarding school) As’saidiyah Jamsaren Kediri, East Java, Anwar Iskandar, who is also forum for East Java and Central Java muslim boarding schools expressed his pessimism over NU’s future.
He was quoted by Tempo online that although the process to elect new NU head has been democratic, he views that the new head’s independency is “questionable”. He sees that Said Agil is too close to the government, which could cause resistance at the NU’s grass-root level.
Some observers say NU should position itself as a leader in civilian society movement. “As a strong civilian organization, NU should become the driver (in civilian society movement), not allowed itself to be taken advantage (by others),” Qasim Mathar, a professor at Islamic University Alauddin, Makassar, was quoted by Kompas as saying.
Given the public’s trust on the government and the parliament is deteriorating, due to corruption cases, -- such as the Gayus Tambunan tax case, traveller’s cheque case involving a number of Parliament members, and many others--, it is time for such big civilian organizations like NU to voice the interest and concerned of the public at large. (by Haryanto Suharman & Roffie Kurniawan)

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Gayus Tambunan & The Mafia

Mas Achmad Sentosa, a member of Task Force To Eradicate Court Mafia, established by the President, said on Saturday the team suspected that the the Gayus Tambunan case may not only implicate police and prosecutors, but could also Gayus’ lawyers and judges.
He said he came up with a conclusion after learning irregularities in the former tax officer case – starting from investigation until the issuance of a verdict, which let him free. “A clear indication is a move to unblock his (Gayus) bank account,” Achmad was quoted by Koran Tempo .
He said, since Gayus’ account was unblocked on Nov 22, 2009, up to Rp 28 billion has been withdrawn from Gayus account. The task force also detected the suspicious withdrawal of Rp 6.2 billion from Gayus account. Andi Kosasih, who previously claimed that the missing Rp24.5 billion in Gayus Account, was his money, failed to prove it. Andi has been been detained by the police. The task force learnt that Andi only got Rp 1.95 billion of the missing Rp 24.5 billion.
Late Sunday, Denny Indrayana, secretary of the task force, said at a press conference that the “independent team”, established by the police has discovered evidence of the presence of court and legal mafias in the Gayus Tambunan case. However, he declined to disclose.
Denny called on the tax office to strengthen internal control and work procedure system. The Gayus case shows the presence of tax mafias. It also indicates that the reformed in the tax office still long way to go.
The public is following the Gayus case with great enthusiasm. Will the police, the tax department, Attorney General act firmly in eradicating such mafia practices?

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Metals prevented IDX from falling deeper

Metal-related stocks prevented the composite index of IDX from falling deeper this morning as Aneka Tambang, INCO, and Timah gained 5.75%, 5%, and 3.3% respectively.
The composite index only lost 0.7% so far, as big caps like Astra, BCA, PGAS, and BRI lost ground on profit taking. Astra declined 2.32%, while Telkom and BCA lost 1.22% and 1.74% respectively. PGAS and BRI also declined 1.73% and 1.79% respectively. Unilever, United Tractors, and Bukit Asam are all in negative territory this morning, also on profit taking.

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Jupe to run for Pacitan Regent?

Pacitan is the hometown of President SBY. Politicians in the regency are competing to win the election for new regent. Interestingly, eight political parties have reportedly approached Julia Perez (some people said one of the hottest Indonesian actress) to enter the race. What?
Solo Pos, a newspaper published in Solo, quoted Julia saying among eight parties approached her are Hanura, Gerindra, and The National Awakening Party (PKB).
Yesterday, Detik.com reported that Julia, popular as Jupe, has yet to ask for blessing from SBY. Wow...Julia born in June 15, 1980. Divorced from Damian Perez, Julia is currently soccer player Cristian Gaston Castano's girlfriend.
Well, last month, United Development Party (PPP) and PKB, nominated Ratih Sanggarwati (former model turned legislator) as Ngawi Regent.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baltic Dry Index gained 14.3%

Baltic Dry Index (BDI), a leading indicator for shipment of commodities worldwide, and as a result an important sign of demand for commodities, gained 14.3% since February 24, 2010.
The index has bottomed out since February 2009. It once soared to above 4,000 in early June 2009, but then retreated to below 2,500 in August. The index soared again to above 4500 in November, but then fell back to 2500 late last month. But since then the index continued to grow to 3098 last Friday.
Sign of improvement in the commodities market? May be. Crude palm oil, for example, closed at RM2534/ton on Malaysia Derivatives Exchange last Friday, substantially lower from last month. But the current price is already 30% above the same month last year.

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Asiata divests 18% XL for Rp5 trillion

Axiata Group Berhad has accomplished the book building for placement of 18% shares in PT XL Axiata Tbk for Rp3300 per share. Axiata would bag Rp5 trillion or US$550 million from the divestment.
The placement, arranged by Goldman Sachs, CIMB Investment Bank Berhad, PT Mandiri Sekuritas, JP Morgan Securities Ltd, and Morgan Stanley Services Ltd, is oversubscribed 3-4 times. Axiata Berhad currently owns 86.5% shares in XL Axiata, wit Etisalat controls 13.3%, and public 0.2%.

The offering could also be upsized by an additional 153,144,000 XL Shares (representing 1.8% equity stake) under the option granted to Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte. on behalf of the initial purchasers for the Offering, in connection with price stabilization initiatives.
At Rp3300/share, XL Axiata is valued Rp28 trillion for 100% shares, right below Indosat (Rp31.24 trillion). XL has gained 71% so far this year, while Indosat gained 21.7%.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Said Aqil Siradj, new NU Chairman

Said Aqil Siradj is elected new chairman of Nahdlatul Ualama, the largest Moslem organization in Indonesia, replacing Hasyim Muzadi. Said will lead NU until 2015.
There were 503 people who had a right to cast a ballot. Said secured 294 votes, while his main rival Slamet Effendy Yusuf got 201 votes. Earlier on Saturday, Sahal Mahfudz, was elected chairman of the advisory board, defeating Hasyim Muzadi. Sahal secured 272 votes, while Hasyim got 180.
The election of NU chairman was conducted in two phases where only candidates with minimum support of 99 could go to the final round. Said got 178 votes, Slamet 158, while Salahuddin Wahid (brother of the late former president Abdurrahman Wahid) only got 83 votes, followed by young NU intellectual Ulil Absar Abdalla (22 votes), Ahmad Bagja (36), Masdar Farid Mas'udi (6), Ali Machsan Moesa (8), Hasyim Muzadi (6), and Abdul Azis (7).
Who is Said?
Born in Cirebon, West Java in 1953, Said graduated with bachelor degree, master, and PhD from Saudi Arabia universities. A father of four, he has been member of NU's executive board since 1999. Said is lecturer and professor at some universities in East Java. In 1998-1999, Said was a member of National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

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Lagoon 500: Luxury yacht, not for research...

Fishermen are considered among the poorest of the society. Yet, the ministry of fishery purchased a "yacht" worth US$1.5 million arguably for "coral reef research".
Minister of fishery Fadel Muhammad said he has dropped the program of his predecessor Freddy Numberi, one of President SBY's trusted aides. "Lagoon 500 is just too luxury for research. Its cabin is unbelievably gorgeous," Fadel said. "This is really good for a voyage, but not me as a minister," Fadel cynically argued against the decision of his predecessor.
Media reports pointed to US$1.5 million purchasing price for Lagoon 500, way above its market price of US$850,000. The yacht arrived in Nongsa Port, Batam Island, in late January from France. Why Freddy Numberi purchased that? Who sold the "yacht" to the ministry? Corruption? Well, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) is auditing the procurement. A friend said "this yacht is really good for research good looking girls who love coral reefs."

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Gayus et al

Gayus Hamonan Tambunan was "just" a "small guy" at Director General of Tax with US$1300/month salary but with US$3.04 million in his bank account after less than five years as "civil servant". How many people out there like Gayus, not only at Tax Office, but Finance Ministry, other ministries, National Police, Attorney General's Office and State institutions?
According to Tax Office, Gayus handled 51 tax cases since 2007, of which Tax Office loose the court battle over 40 cases. Well, it's a must for Tax Office to review the cases handled by Gayus, who knows the State could recover more from the big taxpayers.
Gayus salary of US$1300 per month is already way above the national average. Still, it's hard to imagine someone with that salary could buy a luxury house in Gading Park View, apartment in Cempaka Mas, and luxury cars.
Combined, Gayus might be "wealthier" than Hadi Poernomo, former director general of tax, who claimed he has Rp38.8 billion of assets.
A friend of mine had just purchased a big house in Jakarta from a tax officer with total value over US$250,000. "He was in a hurry to sell the house. I was lucky to pay half of the market price," the friend proudly informed about his "bargain house".
Other Gayuses worked smarter, let's say through "legal framework", such as amendment of tax laws or incentives (lower tax rate for companies with over 40% shares controlled by public)...Lots of companies enjoyed lower tax payment of hundreds of billion rupiah due to this tax incentive. Guess how many politicians enjoyed lot bigger than Gayus from helping companies get lower tax rate, saving hundreds of billion rupiah with few billion of rupiahs "investment" in politicians and their flashy campaigns?

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