Wednesday, November 17, 2010

World class corruption

Jack Abramoff and his Ring of collaborators are mere corruption pikers.

They could all take a few clues from Gayus Tambunan.

Gayus Tambunan is, or at least has been, an Indonesian tax collector. His position paid A$1400 per month.

Before benefits.

With benefits, he amassed a tidy $3.2 million fortune from his position.

His misdeeds made him infamous.

Back in March of this year, a crack squad of Anti-Judicial Corruption Task Force officers meticulously tracked him down in Singapore and hauled him off back to jail in Indonesia.

Well sort of. This is how that was reported by Antara News:
Gayus Tambunan, a tax official wanted for corruption and money laundering, had been arrested at Mandarin Hotel-Meritus, Orchard Road, Singapore. He and his family were dining at an Asian food stall at Lucky Plaza.

Anti-Judicial Corruption Task Force Secretary Denny Indrayana and Mas Ahmad Santosa, member of the Task Force, happened to have dinner at the same restaurant.

"Seeing Gayus Tambunan, we immediately call Chief of the Indonesian police detective unit Commissioner General Ito Sumardi to inform him on Tambunan`s whereabouts," he said.

At the meeting with the suspect, the task force and other Indonesian police officers asked him to become cooperative and willing to return to Indonesia to stand trial, Indrayana said.

After two hours of negotiations , Tambunan eventually decided to return to Indonesia.

It seems that Mr Tambunan's apprehension caused greater apprehension in some quarters who knew him from his cooperative tax collection activities.

What makes it seem that way is that he was "mysteriously" acquitted of corruption charges, then later arrested again, and then later again took the liberty of spending only so much time in jail as he wanted.

This turn of events is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:
He came to national attention when he was mysteriously acquitted of corruption charges in March. It later emerged he had paid the judges, prosecutors and police more than $2 million to get the charge reduced to a minor embezzlement offence, which was then dismissed.

Gayus was promptly arrested, along with, curiously, the man who alerted the public to the affair, a senior police officer, Susno Duadji. Mr Susno was pinged for another alleged corrupt deal involving a fish farm, although it was widely viewed as payback for his whistleblowing.

But, not deterred with twice being caught making corrupt payments, or by the fact he is one of the most high-profile prisoners in Indonesia, Gayus confessed on Monday that he had paid more than $40,000 to be allowed to walk out of prison, reportedly on 68 occasions.

He was not absconding from any old prison either, but one in the middle of the headquarters of the elite mobile brigade police just outside Jakarta.

It was an admission that was slow in coming, prompted when a man resembling Gayus in a wig and glasses was photographed by The Jakarta Globe newspaper at the Tournament of Champions in Bali almost two weeks ago.

Suggestions it was Gayus were dismissed by the police as "totally groundless".

However, on Monday, Gayus came clean, breaking down in tears before a panel of judges at his reconvened court case.

"To put an end to this polemic, I admit that the man in Bali was me," he said.

"I have been so stressed since being detained, and I thought I would take a little vacation because I also saw that several other high-profile detainees were allowed to leave."

The trip to Bali included a three-night stay at the luxury Westin Hotel in Nusa Dua for Gayus, his wife and son.

'It's just the tip of the iceberg," said Donal Fariz from Indonesian Corruption Watch, adding that most of the large companies, senior police and prosecutors that have been identified by Gayus as bribing him have not been prosecuted.

"We are concerned that his trip to Bali was an attempt to stop Gayus from naming more names in court," he said.

Despite its endemic graft, Indonesia is the co-chair of the G20's working committee on anti-corruption.

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