Customs Official Stashes Bribes in Driver’s Accounts

A customs and excise official for the area of Riau and West Sumatra was arrested on Thursday for allegedly receiving bribes and hiding Rp 19.7 billion ($ 1.6 million) in bank accounts belonging to his employee, in an effort to cover up the evidence.

Police found that the customs official, Syafruddin, had deposited the money in three bank accounts registered under the name of Ratiman, a driver’s assistant who works for him. The employee was arrested earlier but he was not charged.

“Syafruddin has been operating these accounts under Ratiman’s name, and there were so many incoming transactions that there is billions of rupiah in them,” the National Police’s special economic crimes director Brig. Gen. Arief Sulistyanto said on Thursday.

Arief said the investigation started when police received a report about illegal sugar imports in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Police initially arrested Hery Liwoto, the director of Kencana Lestari, the company that imported the sugar. Investigators then discovered that Hery had also illegally imported various other products from China, including furniture and construction equipment.

Hery confessed that he frequently wired money to Syafruddin, who worked in the Pontianak customs and excise office in 2010, so that he could bring in the illegal products without any difficulties.

Hery also told police that he usually wired the bribes to bank accounts under Ratiman’s name.

“Ratiman could be charged if we can prove that he knew his accounts were being used for illegal activities, especially since his identity card was used to open the accounts,” Arief said.

Arief said Syafruddin has not been named a suspect but was detained by the prosecutor’s office in Sanggau, West Kalimantan, related to another case.

The customs official has been implicated in taking bribes and is currently under investigation.

Police also named Hery as a suspect. He reportedly admitted that he had also bribed another customs official, Langen Projo, who is Syafruddin’s former superior.

The National Police detained Langen on Thursday on charges of bribery.

H e allegedly received three Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Langen, section head of the customs office for Riau and West Sumatra, is currently being held at a police detention center in Jakarta.

“We have sufficient evidence and witnesses to detain him for the next 20 days, and the period can be extended later,” Arief said.

Police initially seized a Super Glider Harley Davidson motorcycle worth around Rp 320 billion from Langen.

“Today [Thursday] we found two more Harley Davidsons and we have confiscated them also,” Arief said.

He said the police were now tracking down any officials who had been working with Langen to find out if anyone else also received bribes from Hery.

“We have been able to map out the case.Hery and his company Kencana Lestari function as brokers for illegal imports that entered Entikong from China,” Arief said, referring to the border town in Kalimantan.

“Those products belonged to other businessmen who paid Hery to bring it into Indonesia,” he said.

Using staff members’ bank accounts to hide illegal wealth or evidence of illegal activities is not a new phenomenon in this country.

Former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, involved in the beef import-quota scandal, made similar attempts to hide his illicit wealth.

His driver Ahmad Zaky, whose monthly salary was only Rp 3 million, was found to own a house worth Rp 6 billion.

Luthfi was sentenced to 16 years in jail and a Rp 1 billion fine.

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