Sri Mulyani: I Can't Ask Them to Be Honest
18 March 2023 18:33 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - FINANCE Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati did not expect the assault case involving Mario Dandy Striyo, the son of Rafael Alun Trisambodo, Head of General Affairs of the South Jakarta II Tax Office, would drag the finance ministry, particularly the tax directorate-general, through the mud. On February 22, through an Instagram account, she lambasted the brutal assault as well as the behavior of tax officials and their family members who flaunted their lavish lifestyles.
The case quickly escalated as the video of the vicious attack spread and the victim, David Latumahina, remained unconscious in critical condition. On February 24, Sri removed Rafael from his post and ordered the disbandment of Belasting Rijder DJP, a big bike motorcycle club of tax directorate-general officials.
However, Sri’s stern action failed to contain widespread fallout from the case as calls for a tax boycott sprouted in the following days. Said Aqil Siroj, former chair of Nahdlatul Ulama’s Central Board (PBNU), said he would urge the public to stop paying taxes if taxpayers’ money was found to have been misappropriated. Taxation Director-General Suryo Utomo later paid a visit to PBNU Chair Yahya Cholil Staquf last Thursday, March 2. In the following evening, Sri met with several anti-corruption activists to solicit input.
Sri Mulyani answered questions from Tempo at the finance ministry last Friday, March 2. She was accompanied by Yustinus Prastowo, a special staffer with the strategic communication department of the ministry.
The assault by Rafael Trisambodo’s son compelled you to appear on Instagram. Did you see its effects coming?
It happened so fast. Pak Prastowo informed me of the incident. I had just returned from Europe landing at night and had to depart for the G20 meeting in Bangalore, India, the next day. As soon as I read the news headlines referring to the perpetrator as “a taxman’s son,” I posted my first Instagram message. I said there was no reason to justify (the action). Second, the perpetrator showed off his family’s wealth. Even without any prejudice, that already impacted us. That’s why I condemned (their behavior). And netizens criticized me, “Why only condemnation?” Because he’s a hedonist. Third, before I left for India, I asked the inspector-general (Irjen) to look into this person. When I arrived in India after about four hours of flight, sleepy and having had many bilateral meetings, alarm bells rang louder as David remained in critical condition. Gus Yaqut (Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, Religious Affairs Minister) visited him at the hospital. Ansor Youth Movement (NU’s youth wing) members showed up. The video and photos of the torture began to spread. This is like a burst of fire getting bigger and bigger.
What data do you have on Rafael?
The inspector-general detected staff risks via the LHKPN (State Official Wealth Report). The LHKPN was not obligated in the past. It was made mandatory after I returned to Indonesia in 2016. At the time, I asked the inspector-general about compliance at the finance ministry. He said, “I only urged them to report, Bu.” I said, “You don’t urge them. You instruct them!” Hence, the ministerial instruction. This regulation explicitly mentions individuals, 32,000 to 33,000 among 78,000 finance ministry staff, who are required to submit the report. I said, “Ask everyone to fill in the LHKPN.” That’s why we introduced a system at the ministry where even those who are not obligated to file the LHKPN are still required to report their wealth and their annual tax return (SPT) with the ALPHA. Although the LHKPN compliance (at the ministry) has always been 100 percent, we must also look at the content. The inspector-general analyses the data and produces a graph showing the results in different colors, so-called high-risk employees in red, medium-risk in yellow, and low risk in green.
(ALPHA is a special application used by the finance ministry staff to report their personal wealth and taxes).
How many staff have been flagged by the inspector-general?
The total number of high-risk staff is 69, mostly of echelons II and III.
How is the inspector-general following up on the findings?
Examine, analyze, verify and cooperate with law enforcement agencies for high-risk staff. As regards RAT (Rafael), he gave clarifications for his assets, previously in 2019.
How much wealth did he have at the time?
I have no idea. But to prove someone’s guilt, you must have formal evidence. For example, proofs of suspicious transactions, their frequency, the amount, etc. The PPATK (Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center) informed us about them. I asked the inspector-general as soon as Pak Mahfud (Mahfud Md., Political, Legal and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister) sent me a WhatsApp message that the data had been there since 2012. But they refused. They said they received it only beginning 2016. So, the data from the PPATK from 2016 until now was examined thoroughly but everything was accounted for, and justified. To investigate further, we need further efforts. Actually, we have technical difficulties in tracing data. There must be misconduct such as fraud or abuse of power that can lead to disciplinary sanctions and so on. Our investigation has not found any fraud so far.
Rafael was a witness in a tax case in 2016. Was it investigated also?
We are focusing on finding assets that he has not reported.
Rafael and several other tax officials are reported to have joint businesses. Did the inspector-general trace them?
I haven’t heard about it. If I meet the clique, I would ask, “You guys graduated from STAN (State Accountancy College)?” They said, yes. From the same batch? Yes. Started together? Yes. Well, that shows a pattern there but it doesn’t mean we should assume that everyone is the same.
Read the Full Interview in Tempo English Magazine