A man enters Corruption Eradication Corruption (KPK) headquarter in Jakarta last week. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)

Bank Panin Implicated in Tax Bribery Case, Vows to Cooperate in Investigation

BY :JAKARTA GLOBE

MARCH 06, 2021

Jakarta. Bank Pan Indonesia, or Bank Panin, the country's eighth-largest lender by assets, controlled by Indonesian billionaire Mu'min Ali Gunawan, is implicated in the latest tax corruption case Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati dubbed as an act of betrayal to the country. 

According to a Corruption Eradication Corruption (KPK) document viewed by BeritaSatu.com, the Globe's sister publication, on Friday, the anti-corruption agency was investigating the bank regarding an alleged bribe to two senior officials at the Directorate General of Taxes at the Finance Ministry. 

Veronika Lindawati, who acted as the legal representatives to Bank Panin, was among several company representatives who presented gifts and promised kickbacks to the two officials, identified only by their initials APA and DR, the document, signed by KPK chairman Firli Bahuri on Feb 10, showed. 

Veronika has a long career in the Panin Group. The 55-year old started her career as head of accounting at Bank Panin from 1995-1997 after graduating from Unika Parahyangan Bandung. She became an independent commissioner at Clipan Finance Indonesia in 2000-2005.

From 2002 until now, Veronika has served as the financial controller of Wisma Jaya Artek. In 2007, she became an independent commissioner of Clipan Finance Indonesia. Veronika has served as a commissioner at Panin Investment and Paninkorp since 2010.

The anti-corruption agency will announce the detailed case construction and the names of those named suspects after forced attempts to detain or arrest the suspect.

"We are currently unable to convey the details of the case and the suspect, because as we have said that the KPK policy regarding this is that the announcement of the suspect will be made when the arrest or detention of the suspect has been carried out," KPK spokesman Ali Fikri said. 

Previously, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati stated that she had released tax officials involved in tax-related bribery cases handled by the KPK.

"If the alleged bribe is proven [at the court], that is an act of betrayal amid our efforts to focus on increasing the state revenue," Sri Mulyani said on Wednesday. 

Indonesia's tax revenue fell 20 percent last year to Rp 1,070 trillion ($74.9 billion) from Rp 1,333 trillion a year earlier as the Covid-19 pandemic slashed companies' and households' incomes. 

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Immigration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry confirmed that it had prevented six people from leaving the country at KPK's request. Apart from Veronika and the two tax officials identified only by their initials, RAR, AIM, and AS would not be able to leave the country in the next six months. 

"[They] were prevented [from leaving the country] due to [alleged] corruption. The ban is valid for 6 months starting February 8, 2021, to August 5, 2021," Arya Pradhana Anggakara, the immigration office spokesman, said in a statement on Thursday. 

Alexander Marwata, KPK's deputy chairman, said earlier that the tax official suspects allegedly received bribes to allow several companies to lower their tax bills.  

"The bribes are huge too, in the tune of tens of billions [rupiah]," Alexander said.

He said KPK would handle the corruption case, while Finance Ministry would review the companies' tax payments and collect the back taxes the companies might incur. 

Mum'in Ali has yet to respond to the Globe's request for comment. 

Good Corporate Governance

Herwidayatmo, Panin's president director, said the lender would be cooperative during the KPK investigation. 

"If it is true that the case is related to our corporate tax, then we confirm that we will obey as long as the tax findings comply with the prevailing tax regulations," Herwidayatmo told Investor Daily on Friday. 

Herwidayatmo said the lender underwent an audit for its 2016 tax payment. "During the audit process, we followed all the correct mechanisms and procedures. We have been obedient taxpayers and have followed all tax regulations," he said.

He also said Bank Panin hired a reputable tax consultant to help the lender throughout the audit. 

Herwidayatmo denied Bank Panin involved in bribing the two tax officials. 

"That it is not true that there are parties who claim to receive gifts or promises from us regarding tax matters in 2016. We, as a public company, have a responsibility to all stakeholders to run the company according to the principles of good corporate governance," Herwidayatmo said.

 

 

 

 

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