February 27, 2023
JAKARTA – After an uproar over an assault case that led to revelations about the lavish lifestyles of some government officials, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has removed a senior official from his position in the Jakarta Tax Office.
The official has been identified as Rafael Alun Trisambodo, the father of Mario Dandy Satrio, a suspect in an assault case under investigation by the South Jakarta Police.
“Starting today [Friday], the said official RAT is removed from his role and position,” Sri Mulyani said during an online press briefing, referring to Rafael by his initials.
Sri Mulyani said the decision to remove Rafael from his position as head of the general affairs division was based on an internal disciplinary code at the ministry.
The senior Cabinet minister also ordered a thorough investigation into the wealth of the tax official, following revelations that his son Mario regularly showed off his collection of luxurious cars and big motorbikes on social media.
One of his expensive cars, a Rubicon Jeep SUV, was reported to have been on site when Mario allegedly assaulted a victim in Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta. It has been confiscated by the police.
Following his removal from office, Rafael in an open letter issued on Friday said he had resigned from his
job and that he would follow the investigations and obey the legal process in relation to his son’s alleged
Finance Ministry expert staffer Yustinus Prastowo confirmed the resignation with Tempo.
The incident has sparked a public uproar, with the hashtag #StopPayingTax widely circulating on social media platforms, especially Twitter and Instagram, over the past few days.
Sri Mulyani condemned the lavish lifestyle displayed by some officials in the ministry, saying that the ostentatious display of wealth from officials in the ministry “cannot be justified” and could tarnish the image of the reform-minded ministry.
“We condemn the lavish lifestyle shown by family members of the Finance Ministry’s officials, which could erode trust toward the integrity of the Finance Ministry and create a negative impression toward other officials who have been honest and professional in their work,” she said.
The ministry, Sri Mulyani added, will take corrective steps to uphold the integrity of the institution by strengthening the internal compliance and leadership as well as taking a disciplinary procedure against officials who “abuse their authority to enrich themselves or others” and “violate the regulation of civil servants.”
“Our whistle blowing or complaint system will also be continuously improved,” she said.
“We will continue to work hard to manage and maintain the country’s finances properly, honestly and reliably. Taxes paid by the people are a mandate that we must protect without compromise,” the minister added.
Wawan Heru Suyatmiko from Transparency International Indonesia is calling for a more rigorous effort from the government.
“This is not the first time we have the problem of tax officials with fantastic wealth and lavish lifestyles. The Finance Ministry and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) should build an audit and profile analysis system for the ministry’s top officials and employees,” Wawan told The Jakarta Post.
The South Jakarta Police have arrested Mario and charged him with aggravated assault. He could face five years in prison if found guilty, South Jakarta Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Nurma Devi said on Thursday.
The police said based on interviews with witnesses and the suspect, the assault was the result of a dispute between friends. The victim is now receiving intensive medical care.
On Thursday, Rafael posted a video in which he apologized for his son’s assault, including to the victim’s family and the youth wing organization of Nahdlatul Ulama, GP Ansor.
The15-year-old victim in the assault is the son of a high-ranking member of GP Ansor.
Rafael also vowed that he would comply with an internal investigation into his wealth.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has called on police investigators to prosecute the assault case to the fullest extent of the law.
Mahfud said despite a public apology and efforts to find amiable solutions from Rafael’s family, the police should press ahead with their criminal investigation.
“There’s no such thing as an apology or amicable settlement in a legal case. We do have a restorative justice solution for minor crimes. But this assault case involving the son of an official must be legally prosecuted,” Mahfud said in a tweet posted on Friday from his handle @mohmahfudmd.
The senior security minister also called for an “administrative” probe into Rafael.
“From a legal administrative standpoint, a public official with children living hedonistic and lavish lifestyles should be investigated,” Mahfud said.
The KPK will comb through Rafael’s wealth based on the state official wealth report (LHKPN) the agency received.
“An investigation team is on the move,” KPK deputy for prevention and monitoring Pahala Nainggolan said on Thursday as quoted by Tempo.
Pahala said the corruption-busting agency would look into wealth from inheritance and grants. “We need to know who these grants are from,” he said.
The KPK team will also look into other assets allegedly owned by Rafael that are not reported in his LHKPN. The team will coordinate with the National Land Agency (BPN) for assets recorded under his family.
“We will check [assets] under his name, his children, wife and maybe other names listed in his family card,” Pahala said.
Rafael’s LHKPH reportedly listed a total wealth worth Rp 51 billion (US$3.35 million), most of it in property assets. In comparison, Sri Mulyani in her LHKPN reported a total wealth worth Rp 58 billion.
Pahala said Rafael’s reported wealth did not match his profile as an echelon III official. Echelon III is typically the rank of officials with positions below director general (echelon I) and director (echelon II).
The KPK will summon Rafael to clarify his sources of wealth.
Public distrust toward tax officials has come and gone over cases of them distorting taxpayers’ obligations.
One of the infamous cases was Gayus Tambunan, a former low-ranking tax officer who was arrested in 2010 and then tried for multiple charges ranging from bribing law enforcers to falsifying passports, and received a total prison sentence of 30 years.
In 2017, former tax auditor Handang Soekarno was sentenced to 10 years in prison for receiving bribes up to S$148,000 from then country director of a local unit of Abu Dhabi-based retail giant Lulu Group International, Ramapanicker Rajamohanan Nair, after recommending that Nair’s company be exempted from paying Rp 78 billion in back taxes.