Indonesia gov't to sack airline boss for smuggling Harley motorcycle

06, Dec. 2019

JAKARTA, Kyodo - The Indonesian government said Thursday that the head of national carrier PT Garuda Indonesia will be fired over his alleged involvement in the smuggling of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle into Indonesia from France.

"I will fire the Garuda CEO," State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir told a live televised press conference regarding I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, also known as Ari Ashkara.

[Corbis/Getty/Kyodo]
[Corbis/Getty/Kyodo]

"But because it's a public company, the process of his dismissal must pass through some procedures," he added.

The undeclared cargo was reportedly carried onboard a brand new Airbus A330-900 that departed Nov. 16 from the French city of Toulouse, where the plane was manufactured, carrying just 21 directors and staff of Garuda Indonesia plus the crew.

It landed Nov. 17 at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, where customs officers found a completely disassembled, vintage Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Shovelhead motorcycle.

In the same press conference, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the smuggling of the motorcycle, along with two Brompton foldable bicycles, potentially caused state losses up to 1.5 billion rupiah ($107,000).

He said the parts were found in 15 boxes with claim tags under the name of Garuda's aircraft senior manager Satyo Adhi Swandhono, while the bicycles carried a name tag of Lokadita Sedimesa Brahmana, a board member who was also on the flight.

"The market price of a Harley is between 200 million and 800 million rupiah, while the bicycles cost 50 million to 60 million rupiah. Therefore, the estimated state losses are about 532 million and 1.5 billion rupiah," the minister said.

Heru Pambudi, director general for customs and excise, said, however, the vintage Harley made in the 1970s, which is similar to one owned by rock-and-roll king Elvis Presley, was classic and rare, and therefore "the price must be higher than the new one."

He said that based on an investigation by the Finance Ministry and the Directorate General of Customs and Excise, "from the financial aspect, he (Swandhono) has no capacity to be able to have and ride (a Harley)."

Sri Mulyani said the aircraft senior manager was about 300 million rupiah in debt from renovating his home and "his hobby is not riding motorcycle, but cycling" and thus he might be trying to cover-up for his boss.

"He told (customs officials) that he had bought the Harley off eBay, but when we checked his eBay account, there was no contact between the manager and the vendor of the motorcycle," the finance minister said.

According to Thohir, Ashkara transferred some amount of money to an unidentified Garuda finance manager in Amsterdam to buy the motorcycle in April and Iwan Juniarto, the airline's technical and service director, helped him to deal with delivery procedures.

"This is saddening, this process fully involved the executives of a company, not just individuals. I'm very sad," the minister said. (Kyodo)