A panel of judges of the Supreme Court has told agribusiness giant Asian Agri Group to pay Rp 2.5 trillion (US$258.5 million) in fines and sentenced its former tax manager, Suwir Laut, to two years in prison in one of the most controversial tax evasion cases in the country, worth Rp 1.25 trillion.
Presiding judge Djoko Sarwoko said on Thursday that the verdict, read on Dec. 18 by judges Djoko, Sri Muharyuni and Komariah Emong Sapardjaja, was the Supreme Court’s first verdict for a tax evasion case in Indonesia.
Djoko Sarwoko said that Suwir Laut was proven guilty of violating Article 39 of the law on tax evasion.
“The fine should be paid in cash within one year,” he said as quoted by tempo.co.
In 2011, prosecutors charged Suwir for submitting a false tax reports of the company between 2002 and 2005 that allegedly caused Rp 1.25 trillion (US$137 million) in state losses.
However, the Central Jakarta District Court and the High Court acquitted him of charges, arguing that prosecutors failed to prove that Suwir had manipulated Asian Agri’s tax documents. The prosecutors later appealed to the Supreme Court.
Suwir's lawyer Mohammad Assegaf insisted that his client's case was not a criminal case. “This is a tax debt,” he argued, adding that the case should have been tried in a tax court.
Asian Agri Group is owned by tycoon Sukanto Tanoto. (cor/swd)