Former senior manager of Citibank Malinda Dee began her trial for allegedly embezzling more than Rp 44 billion ( US$4.93 million ) from the bank’s premium clients on Tuesday.
Prosecutors are seeking a maximum 15-year jail term for her.
Prosecutor Tatang Sutarna said in his indictment that the former senior manager at Citibank had violated Law No. 10/1999 on banking and Law No. 8/2010 on money laundering.
“The defendant allegedly siphoned off Rp 27 billion and US$2 million between 2007 and 2010,” Tatang said.
The prosecutor said that Malinda received the money from 117 illegal transactions, 64 of which were processed in local currency and 53 of which were in US dollars.
In the indictment, prosecutors also alleged that Malinda processed numerous unauthorized transactions on behalf of Citigold clients and transferred funds from these transactions to accounts controlled by her sister, Visca Lovitasari, and one of her in-laws, Ismail bin Janim.
Malinda alledgedly persuaded her clients to give signatures on blank forms upon which she would later write down the amount of money transferred and the required account number in order to receive it.
More than 30 witnesses are to give testimonies in the high-profile trial.
“We may need more witnesses because there are just so many people implicated in the case,” Tatang said.
There are 34 Citibank clients who lost between Rp 20 million to Rp 1.4 billion from Malinda’s alleged
Along with the death of a Citibank Indonesia customer during a dispute with debt collectors, the embezzlement case has dealt a severe blow to the credibility of the international bank.
The two incidents prompted Bank Indonesia ( BI ) to impose strict sanctions on the bank in May.
BI banned Citibank from recruiting new premium customers for one year and also barred it from issuing new credit cards for the next two years. BI may prolong these sanctions if, during a period of two years, the central bank finds more violations made by the bank’s employees.
For Citibank, it does not help that Malinda cuts a controversial figure, considering her penchant for cosmetic surgery and her glamorous lifestyle.
In June, Malinda, who claimed that she suffered from health problems since early in her detention, underwent a 6-hour surgery to treat an inflammation on her breast.
The surgery turned controversial when the police said it was paid for by the national health care system given her status as a police detainee.
Two months later, Malinda asked for more breast surgery but had her request rejected by the police.
Her first trial session on Tuesday turned out to be a publicity circus, with throngs of bystanders and media representatives packing the South Jakarta District Court building.
Heads were turned when Malinda and her entourage entered the courtroom. A commotion broke out when a female friend of Malinda, later identified as Vivi Buntaran, burst into the packed courtroom, greeted the defendant and revealed a gift that she had brought for Malinda.
Presiding judge Gusrizal threatened Malinda’s friend with contempt of court charges, before she was finally seated. Gusrizal also repeatedly called on the audience to maintain order.
Malinda only said a few words during the proceedings. The 49-year old woman, who was seen crying during the trial, said that she wanted her supporters to stand by her. “Please pray for me,” she said.( lfr )