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Indonesia's Finance Ministry rejects taxman's resignation as KPK probe continues

Jakarta Post - March 3, 2023

Nur Janti and Yerica Lai, Jakarta – Amid an ongoing probe into his sources of wealth by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Finance Ministry has officially refused to accept the resignation of tax official Rafael Alun Trisambodo.

"No employee that is currently under investigation is permitted to resign. As such, we reject RAT's resignation," said Deputy Finance Minister Suahasil Nazara at a joint Finance Ministry and KPK press conference on Wednesday, referring to Rafael by his initials.

After a public uproar over his Rp 56 billion (US$3.66 million) wealth submitted to the KPK in December 2021, which the antigraft body said was inconsistent with Rafael's status as an echelon I official, Rafael made a public apology and announced his resignation last week.

Rafael's wealth rivals that of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani's Rp 58 billion and far outpaces Taxation Director General Suryo Utomo, an echelon I official who listed a total wealth of Rp 14 billion in his wealth report (LHKPN).

With Rafael still listed as an employee of the Finance Ministry, Suahasil insisted that he was still bound by regulations governing the ethical behavior of a civil servant.

Rafael, a middle-ranking tax official who gained notoriety after his son's lavish lifestyle was exposed on social media, went to the KPK office on Wednesday to clarify the sources of his wealth that he reported from 2019 to 2021.

But the KPK said on Wednesday that it had widened its inquiry by tracing his sources of wealth instead of merely seeking clarification for the dubious wealth reports, including the 2021 report that has made the rounds on social media.

"So our target is not simply clarifying his wealth reports but also digging deeper into patterns of how he gained his wealth," KPK deputy for graft prevention Pahala Nainggolan said, adding that the process would take a long time and there would be another summons.

The controversy surrounding Rafael's wealth arose after his 20-year-old son Mario Dandy Satrio was arrested by the police on charges of assaulting the 17-year-old son of a member of GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

Assisting the KPK, the Finance Ministry's Inspectorate General has ordered Rafael to procure the proof of ownership for a Rubicon Jeep SUV and a Harley Davidson motorbike, which appeared on the social media accounts of Rafael's family. The Rubicon car was reported to have been at the scene when Mario allegedly assaulted the victim in Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta.

Following the Rafael controversy, the Finance Ministry announced on Wednesday that it would investigate at least 69 employees who had "unclear" sources of wealth. They did not reveal the identities of the employees or whether they were all tax officials under the ministry.

Both the Finance Ministry and the KPK have already launched an investigation into Yogyakarta customs official Eko Darmanto, whose lavish lifestyle has also garnered some attention in social media. "We at the KPK today decided to investigate [Eko's] wealth report," said Pahala on Wednesday.

As part of the Finance Minister's directive for officials under the ministry to maintain their conduct on social media, Suahasil added that Eko was also being investigated for possible ethical violations. "In order to facilitate the investigation, I've instructed that [Eko] be relieved of his duties," said the deputy finance minister.

The scandal comes as the country enters the annual tax season, with millions of taxpayers preparing to file their annual tax returns before the March 31 deadline. The government has projected a 15.7 percent annual increase in tax revenue to Rp 1.7 quadrillion this year, up from Rp 1.4 quadrillion last year.

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesias-finance-ministry-rejects-taxmans-resignation-as-kpk-probe-continues