No Indonesian public officials linked to illicit fund transfer: Jakarta

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported that the assets were owned by Indonesians, including a politician with ties to the Indonesian armed forces (TNI).
Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported that the assets were owned by Indonesians, including a politician with ties to the Indonesian armed forces (TNI).PHOTO: REUTERS

No Indonesian public officials, either from the military or elsewhere in government, were among the 81 individuals linked to the illicit transfer of US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) from the English Channel island of Guernsey to Singapore, said Indonesia's Finance Ministry.

The ministry's director-general of taxes, Mr Ken Dwijugiasteadi, said in a doorstop interview late on Monday evening that the assets in question were owned by "business people".

His remarks followed media reports in recent days over the transfer of the US$1.4 billion of private bank client assets between the Guernsey and Singapore offices of British financial institution Standard Chartered in late 2015, just before new tax transparency rules were introduced in Guernsey.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported that the assets were owned by Indonesians, including a politician with ties to the Indonesian armed forces (TNI). Preliminary findings also indicated that the fund transfers were "business transactions" and had no connections to the TNI.

Mr Ken said 62 of the 81 people had taken part in Indonesia's tax amnesty scheme, which ran from July last year to March this year. "Some of the funds were transferred to participate in the tax amnesty, while others were transferred because they wanted to avoid the new information disclosure measures (in Guernsey)," he added.

The tax amnesty was part of President Joko Widodo's tax reforms initiative aimed at recovering billions of dollars in revenue lost to widespread tax evasion and in assets hidden overseas by wealthy citizens and businesses. Generous tax rates from as low as 2 per cent to 10 per cent were offered, depending on various factors. The Indonesian authorities have been going after those who did not participate in the scheme and continue to evade taxes.

Guernsey is an island off the coast of Normandy, France. It is not part of the United Kingdom, and is known as a low-tax, offshore financial hub. The Monetary Authority of Singapore and Indonesia's Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) are investigating the suspicious transfer of funds by Standard Chartered, which had shut down its operations in Guernsey last year.

 

According to earlier reports, Standard Chartered held the funds in question on behalf of many Indonesian clients in Guernsey, but the assets were transferred to Singapore in late 2015, a few months before Guernsey adopted a global framework for the exchange of tax data known as the Common Reporting Standard. Under the framework, banks and financial institutions have to automatically share information on the accounts of people subject to taxes in countries that have committed to the reporting standards. Britain, Guernsey and Singapore have all signed up, but Guernsey implemented the rules ahead of Singapore.

The Straits Times understands that senior officials from the PPATK are now in Singapore working on the case.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'No Indonesian public officials linked to illicit fund transfer: Jakarta'. Print Edition | Subscribe