Fresh allegations that companies linked to Indonesian tycoon and politician Aburizal Bakrie bribed an official to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes are baseless, a spokesman said on Friday.
Bakrie family spokesman Lalu Mara Satriawangsa rejected the latest accusations of tax-dodging against Bakrie’s business empire, after disgraced tax official Gayus Tambunan said he had been bribed by Bakrie-linked companies.
“The allegations are baseless and untrue. Our companies including Bumi Resources have been audited by independent auditors and the results have been announced publicly,” he said. “So there are no irregularities whatsoever and we run our business in a transparent way.”
Billionaire businessman Bakrie is the chairman of the Golkar party, a powerful playmaker in the ruling coalition and a potential presidential candidate in 2014.
He denies any conflict of interest between his family’s vast business investments — including property, mining and media — and his political activities as Golkar chief and coalition “secretary-general.”
Tambunan has told corruption investigators that some 40 companies bribed him to avoid paying taxes, including Bakrie unit Bumi Resources and two of its subsidiaries, Kaltim Prima Coal and Arutmin.
The companies are now under investigation, according to senior police.
In a separate case, the tax office is investigating Bumi and several of its subsidiaries over about 200 million dollars in allegedly unpaid taxes. The companies deny any wrongdoing.
Antigraft activists have said the tax cases against Bumi are a crucial test of the government’s commitment to reform.
Ex-finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said last week reforms were being “hijacked” by vested interests opposed to efforts to bring the economy under the rule of law. “It is a battle for Indonesia now,” she said.
Indrawati resigned last month for a senior job at the World Bank following a series of public clashes with Bakrie and his supporters in parliament.
Bakrie’s personal wealth soared some $750 million last year to $2.6 billion, according to research by Globe Asia magazine. Coal miner Bumi has a market capitalization of almost four billion dollars.