Ex-Merpati boss ordered million-dollar deposit
Paper Edition | Page: 4
Former PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MNA) finance director Guntur Aradea testified that the company paid US$1 million in a security deposit to lease two Boeing aircraft from a US company in 2006 based on a note from the company’s former president director, Hotasi Nababan.
“Because there was an instruction from the president director, we disbursed the funds [to pay the security deposit],” he said before the Jakarta Corruption Court on Thursday.
He said further that MNA’s board of directors knew about the fund disbursement as the matter had been brought up several times at the board’s regular meetings.
Merpati had made a deal with US-based Thirdstone Aircraft Leasing Group (TALG) in Dec. 2006 to lease a Boeing 737-400 and a Boeing 737-500.
Merpati paid a $1 million security deposit. The money was placed in the account of Hume & Associates PC, as stipulated in the Lease Agreement Summary of Terms (LASOT) agreed between MNA and TALG, but the planes did not arrive as scheduled in Jan. and March 2007.
Hotasi is alleged to have failed to report the lease of the two Boeing aircraft to a meeting of the company’s board of directors.
Prosecutors claim the failure to report the leasing process was a violation of the Law No. 19/2003 on State-Owned Enterprises.
Guntur, who came to the court as a witness, revealed that the money transfer to Hume & Associates PC was agreed by Hotasi, who signed the application form to process the money transfer.
The security deposit was refundable, so if TALG failed to fulfill its commitment, they would get the money back, he explained.
Following the failure of TALG to deliver the aircraft on schedule, MNA demanded that the company return the security deposit but this was ignored by TALG.
In April 2007, MNA filed a lawsuit against the two owners of TALG, Alan Messner and Jon C Cooper, with the Washington DC Federal Court.
The court ruled in favor of MNA, declaring that TALG and Hume & Associates PC were guilty of failing to fulfill their commitments.
The court ordered the two companies to pay back the $1 million to MNA plus interest.
Cooper acknowledged that he had misused $810,000 of the funds paid by MNA, while the remainder was the responsibility of Messner.
He promised to repay the money in installments of $5,000 per month.
In his defense plea, Hotasi insisted that the case should be considered a civil not a criminal case.
Hotasi and MNA planning general manager Tony Sudjiarto were named suspects in the case due to entering the leasing plan into the company working plan without the approval of a shareholders’ meeting.
Hotasi’s trial has been ongoing since July 5.
Guntur claimed that Hotasi did nothing wrong and that the security deposit payment had followed all the company’s procedures.
Former MNA operations director Hari Pardjaman, however, said he did not really know whether TALG really had the aircraft or not.
Hari claimed that he only heard that TALG would buy aircraft from another company and then lease them to MNA.
The board of directors agreed to the leasing proposal since in the LASOT it was guaranteed that the security deposit would be paid back if TALG did not deliver the aircraft, he added.
In Thursday’s trial hearing, in addition to Guntur and Hari, the prosecutors brought three other witnesses.
Hotasi is charged with enriching himself, or others, or a corporation, through an action that brought financial losses to the state.
He is accused of having committed a wrongdoing by starting the process of leasing the two Boeing aircraft in May 2006 when in fact the Merpati’s company working plan was signed only in October 2006.