Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jailed corrupt Indonesian official took time out for travel overseas

JAKARTA: Indonesia's most notorious corrupt tax official not only left his jail cell to watch tennis in Bali - he also flew to Macau, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Gayus Tambunan, a former mid-ranking tax officer, told officials he was on holiday when he left his cell and went overseas with his wife last September. He was carrying a passport with a photograph of himself in an ill-fitting wig and heavy-rimmed glasses and sporting a goatee.

Except for the beard, it was the same clumsy disguise he wore when he was discovered, and photographed by a newspaper, court-side at an international tournament in Bali in November.

The escapades of Gayus, who amassed a $3.2 million fortune while earning a monthly salary of $1400 and who paid judges, prosecutors and police to have earlier corruption charges reduced to a minor embezzlement offence and then dismissed, continue to lay bare the brazen nature of Indonesia's corruption.

Following his arrest in Bali, Gayus admitted paying more than $40,000 to be allowed out of prison on 68 occasions.

His latest jaunt was revealed after a woman wrote to the daily Kompas, saying a man closely resembling Gayus was on her Air Asia flight to Singapore on September 30.
Kompas later reported that the woman, Devina, had stopped talking to the media because she feared for her safety.

The presidential adviser for legal affairs, Denny Indrayana, subsequently published on Twitter an image of a passport bearing the name Sony Laksono, and a photograph of Gayus.

''This is a photo of Gayus using a wig contained in the passport of 'Sonny Laksono.' It is the same alias Gayus used when watching tennis in Bali,'' Mr Denny tweeted.
The police later confirmed that Gayus had admitted flying to Macau on September 24 and to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on September 30 using the alias Sony Laksono and the passport.

Police are still investigating what he did while abroad, including whether he was moving money around foreign accounts. They suspect he has made other trips abroad.
The Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar, whose ministry oversees the Directorate General of Immigration, initially said no officials were involved and that the passport was fake. He later admitted the passport was authentic but said it had been tampered with.

Questions are also being asked as to how Gayus was allowed to board planes given irregularities in the passport. In particular, he is wearing glasses in his passport photo, which is not allowed.
Sydney Morning Herald

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