Tragic Fate of a Whistleblower

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  • Tragic Fate of a Whistleblower

    Tragic Fate of a Whistleblower

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaA whistleblower in a corruption case was made suspect in tax fraud by the Attorney General. A muddled method of law enforcement.

    NOW is a good time for the Attorney General St. Burhanuddin to make good his promise of "exterminating" wayward and case mafiosi prosecutors. Sitting on his desk for the past month is a report of suspected blackmail by two of his underlings against a suspect whose case is currently being handled by the prosecution, Roni Wijaya. Burhanuddin should instruct his subordinates to take action on the report. 

    The suspect in a money-laundering crime of taxation reported the matter to the Attorney General about this alleged blackmail in February 2020. In the report, the suspect claimed he had been extorted for hundreds of millions of rupiah by two prosecutors handling his case from August 2019 to January 2020. The party claimed he was asked to pay hotel bills, air flight tickets, and for a number of health apparel products. There were also demands for cash to the tune of hundreds of millions of rupiah. The prosecutors promised postponement or revocation of the investigation of the suspect for the monies paid to them. 

    The Attorney General should have immediately investigated Roni's report, who considered his case from the outset as premature. Investigation in the case was handled by the directorate-general of taxation since May 2018. But the taxation team had already apprehended the owner and operational director of Dutasari Citra Laras five months before. The initial reasoning for the detention was to hold hostage tax evaders. Four days passed, and Roni paid his tax arrears, but he was still detained. In fact, according to Tax Director-General Regulation No. PER-03/PJ/2018, late taxpayers who pay off their arrears are to be set free.  

    Eventually, tax investigators nabbed Roni for alleged manipulation of Dutasari taxes and the crime of money-laundering of at least Rp3.8 billion. At the time, Roni held the status of the whistleblower in the case of alleged corruption in the Hambalang sports center project in Bogor, which slammed the minister of youth and sports Andi Mallarangeng and Anas Urbaningrum, the general chair of the Democrat Party. It is unfortunate that the Corruption Eradication Commission handling the case made no reaction whatsoever to the detention of this important key witness. The law for the protection of witnesses and victims governs the right of whistleblowers to legal protection or at the very least protection from action against their alleged crime until the case has been fully uncovered and is legally binding. 

    During the course of an investigation, neither was the suspect provided with a legal advisor. This is in violation of Article 54 of the Criminal Law Procedure Code, which governs that a suspect has the right to be accompanied by a legal advisor. The process for detaining the suspect was also in violation of regulation. Investigators made the arrest using the reasoning to detain tax evaders until their tax arrears are paid. In this case, Roni had already made good his arrears, yet he was still detained. Roni's detention from since he paid his taxes is in direct violation of the law.

    If all of Roni's reports are proven true, there should be no excuse for the Attorney General to have the case continue to court. He can return the case to the tax investigators. The taxation directorate-general needs to examine the investigation team who handled Roni’s case. Sanctions need to be given out if indeed procedure was violated and authority abused. The Attorney General has to quickly and firmly sanction wayward prosecutors so that the process of law enforcement in this country going down the drain can be rectified.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine