Indonesians query tax official’s wealth after viral assault video

- Advertisement -

A tax official’s finances were being investigated after a video surfaced online showing his son assaulting a teenager.

- Advertisement -

Medan, Indonesia – Indonesians are questioning the source of a mid-level tax official’s wealth after a video surfaced of his student son beating a teenager, leading internet sleuths to expose his family’s ostentatious lifestyle.

The finances of Rafael Alun Trisambodo, a Jakarta-based tax official, came under scrutiny after a 57-second video of his son Mario Dendi Satriyo punching, kicking and kicking a 17-year-old went viral last month.

- Advertisement -

The alleged victim, Satriyo’s current girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, is in a coma in the hospital after the attack.

After the video circulated online, Indonesian netizens followed Satrio’s social media posts showing the student driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle and Jeep Wrangler SUV that cost several times the average Indonesian salary, raising questions about whether how his family can afford vehicles on the salary of a government employee.

- Advertisement -

On Friday, Indonesian Finance Minister Shri Mulyani Indrawati said in a statement that Trisambodo’s operations had been put on hold while an investigation into his condition was under way.

Indrawati also urged Indonesians not to let the dissension prevent them from paying their taxes.

On Wednesday, Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission questioned Trisambodo about the source of his wealth, which is reported to be IDR 56 billion ($3.67 million).

The Ministry of Finance refused to accept Trisambodo’s resignation, citing the need to determine whether he was guilty of wrongdoing and should be dishonorably discharged, which would deprive him of his pension.

Alexander Arifianto, Research Fellow, School of International Studies. S. Rajaratnam (RSIS) in Singapore, said the case caused a public outcry due to the widespread perception that Indonesian officials do not hold themselves to the same standards as everyone else.

“People hear news about high-ranking officials and their families driving around in Harleys, owning luxury cars and other luxury items, so they feel like there is one rule that applies to officials and another rule for the public,” Arifianto told Al Jazeera.

Arifanto added that the time of controversy was particularly tense, as Indonesians have until the end of March to file their tax returns.

Tax rates in Indonesia range from 5 to 35 percent depending on income. The Ministry of Finance announced last month that Indonesia collected 162 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($10.6 billion) in taxes in January 2023, up nearly 50 percent from last year.

“People get upset because they have to pay taxes and comply with tax rules, but their tax money ends up subsidizing the lifestyle of these high-ranking tax officials. That is why there is so much outrage about this case now,” Arifianto said.

Indonesian tax authorities under fire over questions about personal wealth of middle-ranking official [File: Iqro Rinaldi/Reuters]

Indonesia was ranked 110th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index, down 14 places from the previous year.

“We see corruption not only in the tax service, but also in many other public sectors. The Commission for the Eradication of Corruption often focuses on cases that have caused damage to the state directly from the state budget, but apart from this there are many other cases of corruption of public funds, such as misappropriation of tax money,” Kamal Pane, an Indonesian lawyer specializing in corruption cases. Al Jazeera said.

Payne said authorities needed to explain how the tax official got his wealth.

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather begins with a Balzac quote that reads: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime,” he said. “That’s the problem. It should be clear where the money comes from.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, Pahala Nainggolan, a senior official with the Commission for the Eradication of Corruption, said questions about Trisambodo’s finances had been raised before and that the first investigation into him was carried out in 2018.

“From the point of view of local administration, everything was in order, in terms of his bank accounts, the accounts of his wife and child, everything was correct. But with so much wealth and so much activity with his bank accounts, we thought something was wrong,” Nainggolan said, adding that at the time, the commission felt it did not have enough evidence to continue its investigation.

Nainggolan said a team of investigators had recently been sent to North Minahasa in North Sulawesi and Yogyakarta in Java to investigate businesses and homes allegedly owned by Trisambodo and his family, and that the investigation is ongoing.

Trisambodo’s son is not the only government-connected figure accused of inappropriately flaunting wealth.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Indrawati said officials at the General Directorate of Revenue (DJP) should immediately disband the motorcycling club they have created because the attention it receives could damage the reputation of the tax authorities.

“Even if the big motorcycles were obtained with clean money or with an official salary, riding and parading them is not befitting for officials and employees of the tax authorities and the Ministry of Finance,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

As the tax implications continue, the teenager attacked in the video remains in a coma and his family has reportedly filed for witness protection given the high-profile nature of the case and the individuals involved.

Satriyo was arrested and named as a suspect in the case, along with his friend, 19-year-old Shane Lucas Rotua, who allegedly filmed the attack. Both face up to five years in prison for aggravated assault if proven guilty.

Arifanto, an RSIS official, said the public’s cynicism about special treatment for the country’s elite extended to the trial involving Trisambodo’s son.

“People suspect that the son of a tax official can get away with an attack with just a slap in the face. [the teen]however, if an ordinary person did it, they would face severe punishment,” Arifianto said.

Credit: /

- Advertisement -

Recent Articles

Related Stories