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Gayus charged with money
laundering

Graft convict and former taxman Gayus H. Tambunan may be required to prove the legality of his enormous wealth in court or risk facing a heavier sentence than that handed down in his previous trial.

Gayus will likely be obliged to defend the source of his wealth as a consequence of the 2010 Anti-Money Laundering Law, which police are charging him with, National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The police initially charged Gayus with receiving gratuities. The move drew criticism that the police intended to protect the “big fish” as gratuity charges would leave the bribe payers untouched.

Under the anti-money laundering law, the burden of proof is placed on the suspect, meaning Gayus would have to prove the sources of his funds were legal.

The law could force Gayus to identify the sources of the Rp 100 billion (US$11.1 million) in his bank accounts. If any of the companies whose tax appeals Gayus handled are named, judges may order police to probe the firms.

“However, the judges will decide whether they want to place the burden of proof on Gayus. I hope they do,” Ito said.

He added that charging Gayus under the anti-money laundering law was not a guarantee the burden of proof would be placed on him.

Gayus was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in manipulating a tax appeal by an East Java-based shrimp processing company. He is currently under investigation again by police in connection with his enormous wealth and his illicit jaunts to Bali.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has also entered the fray to probe an alleged corruption ring at the tax office that could implicate 151 companies whose tax appeals were handled by Gayus.

The KPK, whose authority is limited to investigating corruption cases, can only charge suspects under the anticorruption law, which, unlike the anti-money laundering law, does not place the burden of proof on the suspect.

Critics claim it would have been impossible for the 31-year-old Gayus to have Rp 100 billion in his
bank accounts, given that his monthly salary as a tax official was Rp 12 million.

One of the lawyers representing Gayus, Pia Akbar Nasution, said her client would have no problems identifying the sources of his money.

“At his previous trial, Gayus had already revealed the source of Rp 28 billion,” she told the Post.

The South Jakarta District Court has pioneered the implementation of the newly endorsed anti-money laundering law.

In a breakthrough ruling, the court’s judges last month placed the burden of proof on Bahasyim Assifie, another former tax official facing graft charges.

The court sentenced Bahasyim to 10 years in prison, arguing that he was unable to prove the source of funds amounting to more than $7.1 million.

Mas Achmad Santosa, a member of the Judicial Mafia Taskforce, said placing the burden of proof on
suspects would be more effective and powerful if regulated in a separate law.

“We have proposed drafting a law on illicit enrichment. Such a law could allow authorities to deem illegal and seize the wealth of a state official that is alleged to be from illegal sources,” he said.

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