Bhakti Investama-linked Gunarjo gets 3.5 years in prison
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The Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced businessman James Gunarjo to three-and-a-half years in prison for bribing a tax official in exchange for a tax reduction for investment firm PT Bhakti Investama.
The sentence was more lenient than the five years sought by prosecutors.
The panel of judges found James guilty of bribing tax official Tommy Hindratno to lower the tax obligation of PT Bhakti Investama, which the tax office claims owes Rp 3.4 billion (US$353,600) in tax arrears.
“I hereby declare defendant James Gunarjo guilty of violating Article 5 point 1 of the Corruption Law, as has been stipulated in his primary indictment,” presiding judge Darmawati Ningsih said, reading out the verdict on Friday.
She added that the verdict also required James to pay Rp 100 million in fines or serve an additional three months in prison.
“I will consult with my lawyer and after that, I will entrust [my further legal decision] to him,” James said, responding to his verdict.
James’ lawyer, Sehat Damanik, said he would take time to consider whether to appeal the sentence or not.
James was named a suspect after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators caught him red-handed, paying Rp 280 million in cash to Tommy in a Padang restaurant in Tebet, South Jakarta, in June.
Tommy, who has been named a suspect, is still under questioning by KPK investigators.
The antigraft body has also questioned Antonius Z. Tonbeng, an independent commissioner with Bhakti Investama, in connection with the case.
Tonbeng was the one who initially met Tommy in January, and asked the latter “to take care” of the tax restitution for Bhakti Investama.
Bhakti Investama is a company run by media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who also controls numerous companies, including PT Media Nusantara Citra, PT Bhakti Capital Indonesia and PT MNC Sky Vision. It employs more than 20.000 people.
Hary, who joined the National Democratic (Nasdem) Party, has also been questioned by KPK investigators.
He, however, claimed he did not know anything about the company’s financial matters. Instead, he blamed his subordinates in the company.
Hary said, during James’ previous court hearing, that he was bewildered about the case because he believed PT Bhakti Investama was rigorous about paying its taxes.
According to Hary, the companies under PT Bhakti Investama pay a combined annual tax bill of up to Rp 1.1 trillion.
Among those questioned in connection to the case, Hary seemed to take the matter lightly.
When the KPK issued a summons to question him in June, Hary ignored it and arrived at the KPK headquarters two days later. He said that he voluntarily went to the KPK to help the investigation.
KPK spokesperson Johan Budi told The Jakarta Post that the commission would continue to develop the case by questioning witnesses and suspects in connection to the case.