Bumi Unit Launches Bid to Avoid Tax-Evasion Trial

By webadmin on 04:43 pm Feb 10, 2010
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Dion Bisara

Miner PT Kaltim Prima Coal, a subsidiary of the Bakrie group’s PT Bumi Resources, on Monday requested a pre-trial hearing at the South Jakarta State Court in a bid to prevent a tax-evasion case against it from going to trial.

Mochamad Tjiptardjo, the head of the Finance Ministry’s Directorate General of Taxation, alleged in December that coal miner Bumi Resources and two of its subsidiaries — KPC and PT Arutmin Indonesia — owed the government Rp 2 trillion ($212 million) for unpaid taxes from 2007.

Aji Wijaya, KPC’s lawyer, said on Monday that the tax office had breached the law in its investigation of his client and demanded it withdraw its allegations.

However, the tax office said it would continue its investigation and that KPC had wrongly interpreted the law.

The criminal code (Kuhap) did not apply to investigations in a pre-trial situation, Aji said.

He said plantations company Asian Agri had been successful in getting a pre-trial hearing in similar circumstances and that the judge should follow that example. “The same request [by Asian Agri] was granted by the very same court,” he said. “If we cannot find justice here, we will go to the Supreme Court.”

Aji said there were three main reasons why KPC was requesting a pre-trial hearing.

First, the tax office didn’t stop its initial inquiry into KPC before elevating the case to “preliminary investigation for evidence” status, he said.

Second, the tax office was basing its case on the 2007 Tax Law, he said. Because the alleged tax evasion happened in 2007, the tax office should have used the 2000 Tax Law, Aji said. KPC had won a pre trial hearing on this issue on December 9, 2009, he said.

Third, Aji said the tax office had launched an “elevated investigation” on March 30, 2009, while KPC had a case in court, attempting to get the investigation into it halted.

Fendy Dharma Saputra, the head of legal advisory at the tax office, took issue with Aji’s interpretation of the law. It was not correct that the criminal code did not apply to pre-trial investigations, he said.

“We just see that is not quite right,” he said.

The tax office is scheduled to read its defense against KPC’s request this afternoon.