JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian billionaires were among the names included in one of the biggest document leaks in history.
The vast stash of records were leaked from legal firm Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices in 35 countries. The so-called Panama Papers, was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with more than 100 media groups by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Among the media groups involved in digging through the trove of 11.5 million documents was Indonesian group Tempo, which reported Monday, April 4, some Indonesia names on the list.
One of them is Sandiaga Uno, a businessman who is also a candidate in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election.
Uno openly dicussed his offshore companies with media saying, “I plan to show the information about my offshore companies to the public since I am going to run,” he told a Tempo reporter in late March.
Similar to many clients of Mossack Fonseca, there is no proof that Uno was performing illegal activities by setting up offshore companies. Offshore financial dealings are not illegal in themselves but may be abused to hide assets from tax authorities, launder the proceeds of criminal activities or conceal misappropriated or politically inconvenient wealth.
However, Tempo said the leaked document indicated that clients of the firm turned out to be crooks, mafia members, drug dealers, tax evaders, or involved in child sex crimes, political corruption or terrorism.
For instance, two such Indonesians who have been alleged of corrupt activities were mentioned in the document: oil and gas businessman Muhammad Riza Chalid, and a fugitive in the Bank Bali corruption case, Djoko Soegiarto Tjandra.
Meanwhile, one Indonesian investor claimed a company incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands was used to scam 3,500 people out of at least $150 million.
“We really need that money for our son’s education fee this April,” one Indonesian investor emailed Mossack Fonseca in April 2007, after payouts had stopped.
“You can give us any suggestion, something we can do,” the investor said in broken English after seeing Mossack Fonseca’s name on the investment fund’s advertising leaflet.
Indonesian Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro was also quoted by Tempo as saying that the government obtained data on thousands of companies offshore, as well as shell companies owned by Indonesians overseas valued at “thousands of trillions of rupiah.”
Brodjonegoro said the government will aim to retrieve lost funds overseas using the government’s planned Tax Amnesty Act. – Rappler.com/with reports from Agence France-Presse