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Indonesian taxman scandal tip of the iceberg: Corruption watchdog

Jakarta Post - March 7, 2023

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – Antigraft watchdog Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) warns that the recent scandal involving a tax official with unclear sources of wealth represents only the tip of the iceberg.

The ICW calls on the government to not only investigate public officials' source of wealth but also enact regulations against illicit enrichment by public officials.

"This case is not enough to be settled only with a casuistic and short-term approach," the group said in a statement on Friday.

Concerns over public officials' wealth have risen since Rafael Alun Trisambodo, who served as head of the general affairs division at one of the tax offices in Jakarta, gained public notoriety after his son's lavish lifestyle was exposed on social media.

On Wednesday, Rafael went to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office to clarify his sources of wealth, as the KPK said his wealth report did not match the typical profile of an echelon III official.In his wealth report submitted to the KPK in December 2021, Rafael listed a total wealth of Rp 56 billion (US$3.66 million), rivaling that of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani's Rp 58 billion and outpacing echelon I official Taxation Director General Suryo Utomo who listed Rp 14 billion.

The Finance Ministry has removed Rafael from his position while rejecting his resignation citing that Rafael was under investigation over his sources of wealth.

The ICW said Rafael's removal could be seen as a firm and progressive move, but it also showed weak prevention and early warning mechanisms on violations of integrity by public officials.

The group pointed out that cases of tax officials with unclear sources of wealth were not new, citing the scandals of Gayus Tambunan, a former tax officer imprisoned for graft who amassed some Rp 100 billion, and Angin Prayitno, an ex-tax officer imprisoned for graft whose Rp 57 billion was confiscated by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

"State institutions need to be proactive by seriously analyzing wealth reports and suspicious transactions to make sure that its internal supervision is effective," the ICW said.

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), which detected suspicious transactions involving Rafael in 2012, could have requested sooner financial service providers to freeze transactions deemed suspicious.

The ICW suggested that the government consider criminalizing illicit enrichment of public officials as unexplained sudden increases of wealth within a short period of time could be a result of financial crimes, including corruption.

Investigation continues

In addition to Rafael, the authorities are also looking into the wealth of a former Yogyakarta Customs and Excise Office head Eko Darmanto, whose now-deleted social media account contained pictures of him with luxury motor vehicles.

The KPK has summoned Eko to clarify his source of wealth on March 7. "He has agreed to come," KPK graft prevention deputy Pahala Nainggolan said on Friday, Antara reported.

The Finance Ministry had removed Eko from his position but kept his status as a civil servant.

"To assist the investigation, he has been removed from his position as head of Yogyakarta Customs and Excise Office effective March 2," the ministry's Customs and Excise General Directorate spokesperson Nirmala Dwi Heryanto said on Friday.

On Wednesday, Finance Ministry inspector general Awan Nurmawan Nuh said the ministry had also found that at least 69 of its employees had unclear sources of wealth based on their wealth reports in 2019 and 2020, and the general inspectorate would summon them to clarify.

Source: https://asianews.network/indonesian-taxman-scandal-tip-of-the-iceberg-corruption-watchdog