Gayus Just The Tip of The Iceberg

Padang appearance of Indonesia's most notorious corrupt tax official, Gayus Tambunan, in an ill-fitting wig at a Bali tennis tournament has illustrated, in absurd relief, the entrenched culture of graft in the country. Gayus is a middle-ranking tax official who, despite a modest monthly salary of $1400, amassed a $3.2 million fortune.

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 a national newspaper at the Tournament of Champions in Bali almost two weeks ago.

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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.

The confession prompted the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to demand a full briefing on the case yesterday, saying it was ''tainting'' the country's reputation.

Despite its endemic graft, Indonesia is the co-chair of the G20's working committee on anti-corruption. Dr Yudhoyono's officials are promising a full and transparent investigation and prosecution of the guards.

But anti-corruption activists say they have heard it all before.

''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.

Sumber : sydney morning herald


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