Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Finance Ministry Official Heru Pambudi Comes under Spotlight after House Hearing

March 31, 2023 | 9:00 pm
Heru Pambudi (Photo courtesy of the Finance Ministry)
Heru Pambudi (Photo courtesy of the Finance Ministry)

Jakarta. Public attention is now on Finance Ministry Secretary-General Heru Pambudi after his name was mentioned during a heated House of Representatives hearing earlier this week discussing alleged massive money laundering activities involving ministry officials.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD told lawmakers that the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, or PPATK, handed reports and analyses on Rp 189 trillion worth of suspicious transactions to the ministry on November 13, 2017.

The PPATK team was received by Heru, who at that time served as the director general of customs and excise, and the ministry’s Inspector General Sumiyati, Mahfud said.

The documents were so classified that the PPATK decided to hand them in person to the ministry instead of sending them by mail.


But there had been no follow-up of the reports, which analyzed imports of gold ingots suspiciously labeled as raw gold by the customs office, Mahfud said.

In 2020, the anti-money laundering agency filed new analyses but still, no investigation was conducted, he added.

It was suspected that those reports never reached Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who disclosed a much smaller amount of suspicious transactions than the data provided by the PPATK and Mahfud during an earlier hearing with a separate committee earlier this week.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Heru claimed that the ministry took necessary actions in response to the PPATK reports in 2017.

“As a follow-up of the reports, we established a technical team,” he said at his office in Jakarta.

The team sought to tighten supervision over customs and duties and investigate allegations of tax violations and money laundering, he added.

But he didn’t explicitly mention if the reports arrived at Sri Mulyani’s desk.

Vice Minister Suahasil Nazara said the ministry once halted gold ingot imports over suspected customs violations in coordination with the PPATK and even brought the case to the court for a lengthy legal battle from 2017-19.

“The Customs and Excise Directorate lost the case at the district court but won the appeal (at the Supreme Court). In 2019, however, the accused requested a judicial review and the customs office lost again,” Suahasil said.

The court verdict is final and binding, meaning there’s no customs violation in the gold ingot import case according to the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, the money laundering investigation was discontinued because the ministry couldn’t prove that the money derived from criminal activities, he said.

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