Wed, 02 Jul 2003

Taxation, postal officials on trial for alleged graft

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar, South Sulawesi

The Makassar District Court began on Tuesday the trial of an official with the South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi Taxation Office and an accomplice who works with the Makassar Post Office for misappropriating Rp 40.9 billion (US$4.9 million) in tax payments from cement producer PT Semen Tonasa.

Prosecutor Muhammad Zainal Arif said Asriadi, the taxation office official, and Iwan Zulkarnain, the post office official, were charged with misusing their positions to enrich themselves, thereby inflicting Rp 40.9 billion in losses to the state.

Both are being charged with violating Anticorruption Law No. 21/2001 and the Criminal Code.

Under the anticorruption law, a person found guilty of corruption faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

"Both defendants had made a deal to take the tax payments from Semen Tonasa," Zainal said while reading the indictment.

"Income tax and value-added tax payments from Semen Tonasa in the form of checks were cashed by Iwan from Bank Universal. Iwan put the money into his account in that bank," he added.

To conceal his action, Iwan kept four copies of tax payment certificates at his office and gave the other two to Asriadi, who then covertly put the letters at the income tax and value-added tax divisions of his tax office, the prosecutor said.

" looked as if the tax payments from Semen Tonasa had been received by the State Treasury," he said.

Zainal said the two alleged corruptors had taken the tax payments of Semen Tonasa 13 times between 2001 and 2002.

With the money, Asriadi had bought a house worth Rp 4 billion, three luxury cars, one motorcycle, and possessed several bank accounts, the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, Iwan used part of the money to purchase a luxury car, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and three houses.

Iwan's lawyer Machbub later challenged the indictment, saying that it was unclear and incomplete.

However, Asriadi's lawyer Abdul Karim Malik accepted the indictment and asked the panel of judges, presided over by Judge Andi Haedar to continue the trial by presenting witnesses.

The trial was adjourned until next Tuesday.