Indonesia freezes accounts linked to taxman amid public anger over disproportionate wealth

Pizaro Gozali Idrus
Indonesia freezes accounts linked to taxman amid public anger over disproportionate wealth Rafael Alun Trisambodo (second from right), an official with the directorate general of taxation at Indonesia’s Finance Ministry, walks out after being questioned at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office in Jakarta, March 1, 2023.
Eko Siswono Toyudho/BenarNews

Indonesian authorities have frozen dozens of bank accounts with recorded transactions totaling U.S. $32.5 million linked to a mid-level tax official, as part of an investigation into his wealth amid a public outcry over his family’s lavish lifestyles.

The accumulated wealth of Rafael Alun Trisambodo, a former taxation official at the Finance Ministry, came under scrutiny after police arrested his high-living son last month for allegedly assaulting a teenager and putting him into a coma, in a case that has attracted nationwide attention.

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) has blocked 40 accounts connected to Rafael, his family and other parties involved, said the agency’s head, Ivan Yustiavandana.

“The value of transactions made using these accounts between 2019 and 2023 is about 500 billion rupiah U.S. $32.5 million),” Ivan told BenarNews.

The agency had also received complaints from the public that a tax consultant linked to Rafael had fled abroad, Ivan said. He also said there were suspicions that two former tax employees worked for the consultant.

Rafael’s son, 20-year-old Mario Dandy Satriyo, allegedly attacked the teenage son of a member of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama, on Feb. 20.

The teen, Cristalino David Ozora, is being treated in a hospital for head injuries. On Tuesday, he was beginning to regain consciousness, his father said via posts on social media.

Dandy flaunted images of his luxury cars and motorcycles via social media, in shows of wealth that outraged an Indonesian public fed up with officials’ perceived excesses in a country where tax evasion is rampant and many people live in poverty.

The video in which Dandy was shown allegedly beating and kicking the 17-year-old circulated widely online.

Rafael, who is a third-level official at the tax office, had assets worth 56 billion rupiah, or about $4 million, according to his wealth declaration. In Indonesia, high-ranking civil servants receive a monthly salary of about $2,500 including benefits.

But the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said that some of his assets, including a high-end Jeep Wrangler and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, were not declared because they were not under his name.

Last week, the KPK summoned Rafael for clarification about his wealth and then opened an investigation into his case.

The anti-graft body has also cooperated with the PPATK to trace his financial activity.

The case has raised questions among the public about the integrity of the tax office, which has been trying to improve its image and performance in recent years.

After widespread public condemnation, the Finance Ministry removed Rafael from his post as the head of general affairs at a South Jakarta tax office.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s finance minister, has said she will take firm action against subordinates found to have amassed ill-gained wealth, and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies. She has also urged the ministry’s employees to comply with the code of ethics and to report their wealth accurately and transparently.

Transparency International’s annual report in January showed that Indonesia fell 14 spots to rank 110th on the group’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which measures perceptions of public sector corruption.

Indonesia has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in Southeast Asia. Last year, that ratio in Indonesia was about 10%. The government has been trying to increase tax revenue by expanding its taxpayer base and improving compliance.


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