Jakarta Tax Graft Suspect Says Money Was ‘Gift’
Rizky Amelia & SP/Novianti Setuningsih
Tax official turned graft suspect Tommy Hendratno has claimed that the money he took from a tax consultant was not a bribe but rather a debt he was owed and a gift.
Tommy was caught on June 6 in a Jakarta restaurant while accepting Rp 280 million ($30,000) in cash from James Gunarjo, who was working for Bhakti Investama, a financial services company owned by media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo. James was also arrested in the sting.
The arrest came after Bhakti secured a Rp 3.4 billion tax rebate based on the company’s claim at the Sidoarjo Tax Office in East Java that it had overpaid its tax. Tommy was the head of tax supervision and consultancy at the Sidoarjo office.
But Tommy, through his lawyer, Tito Hanata Kusumah, said that James had owed Tommy Rp 100 million while the remaining Rp 180 million was a gift.
“This [money] was personal,” the lawyer said, adding that the money was not connected to Bhakti’s tax rebate.
Tito came to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office on Thursday to declare the gift.
By law, public officials are prohibited from taking gifts that could lead to conflicts of interest and are obliged to report such gifts to the KPK within 30 days after the gift is received.
Tito said that since his client had reported the gift to the KPK on Thursday, he should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
But the KPK said it was up to the court to determine whether the money was indeed a gift or a bribe.
Tito said that Tommy was also planning to seek protection from the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK).
He claimed that his client had received death threats.
The lawyer declined to divulge further information about the threats.
But a source close to the tax official said that there had been “some harassment” from other detainees at the Jakarta Police detention facility where Tommy is currently being held.