Jakarta. Veronika Lindawati, a commissioner of Panin Investment, stood trial on Wednesday on charges of paying tax officials 500,000 Singapore dollars ($356,000) to get a huge tax discount for sister company Bank Panin.
Her trial is part of the ongoing investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) into a massive corruption scandal involving top-level officials at the Finance Ministry’s Tax Collection Directorate and executives from big companies.
Prosecutors said Veronika has promised to pay a tax collection team led by Angin Prayitno Aji, then was the director of tax investigation and collection, a total of Rp 25 billion ($1.6 million) during an inquiry by the directorate in 2017 and 2018 in her attempt to get the discount.
"The defendant, Veronika Lindawati as a commissioner of Panin Investment who was appointed to represent taxpayer Bank Pan Indonesia or Bank Panin, handed 500,000 Singapore dollars of the promised Rp 25 billion to Angin Prayitno Aji," prosecutor Yoga Pratomo told the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.
In December 2017, tax officials led by Angin found that Bank Panin owed the state a staggering Rp 926 billion in unpaid taxes for the fiscal year 2016.
In June 2018, Veronika met with tax officials to negotiate the amount, telling them she would pay Rp 25 billion if they agreed to slash Bank Panin’s taxes to Rp 300 billion, according to the indictment.
The tax inquiry team into Bank Panin later revised the total tax payment to Rp 303 billion which was agreed upon by both sides in August of that year.
In October, Veronika handed the tax team 500,000 Singapore dollars to which Angin gave no complaint, the court heard.
Not only did Angin orchestrate fraudulent actions to extort targeted taxpayers, but he also decided a 50:50 split of the ill-gotten money for the team members and their superiors, prosecutors said.
Angin was already convicted by the same court and sentenced to nine years in prison for taking bribes from Bank Panin and two other companies namely Jhonlin Baratama and Gunung Madu Plantations. He was also ordered to return Rp 14.5 billion to the state coffers.
Tax supervisor Wawan Ridwan, a member of the disgraced tax team, received a similar sentence.
Other defendants in the same case are being tried separately.