ADenpasar court has found the sales manager of PT Billabong Indonesia guilty of the embezzlement of promotional materials in a bitter, long-running dispute that pits the Australian surfwear giant against its one-time local partner.
The Denpasar District Court on Thursday sentenced Billabong Indonesia sales and marketing manager I Wayan Suanda to two-and-a-half years in prison, minus time already served. Wayan was charged with embezzling company materials in May and then taken into custody.
Delivering the verdict, presiding Judge Nyoman Sutama said Wayan had violated a ban on using materials belonging to local partner CV Bali Balance after Billabong Indonesia terminated cooperation with the distributor in October 2005.
Since that date, prosecutors alleged, Wayan and another defendant, Billabong Southeast Asia general manager Christopher James, removed pictures and other promotional materials from 34 stores without CV Bali Balance’s permission, causing losses to the company of Rp 1.09 billion ($115,000).
Wayan’s lawyer, Robert Khuana, said his client was planning to appeal the ruling because it was unjust.
The case is not the only ongoing legal action involving the two companies. In June, the Gold Coast, Australia-based Billabong filed a suit against CV Bali Balance, seeking a court order to stem years of allegedly malicious behavior by the company, according to a report by Australia’s Daily Telegraph.
In that suit, lodged with the Brisbane Supreme Court, Billabong alleges that CV Bali Balance had agreed to end its distribution license with Billabong Indonesia in 2006. At that time, CV Bali Balance signed documents that specified a period where staff, shop fixtures and the disputed promotional materials would be transferred from CV Bali Balance to Billabong Indonesia.
Court documents in Brisbane obtained by the Telegraph state the transfer went smoothly until 2007, when Australian-born Suzi Burke Suwenda took over control of the company after her surfing husband, Wayan Suwenda, died.
At this point, Suwenda started to make criminal allegations against key Billabong staff. This included charging Billabong’s James with embezzlement of the light boxes and illuminated display cabinets in dispute.
Billabong claimed James, who worked in Bali from late 2006, was charged at the behest of CV Bali Balance.
The Indonesian government has also requested that he be extradited from Australia, where he remains at present.