Indonesia presses UK over Bombardier corruption probe

Indonesia is seeking assurances from the UK that it will secure a share of any future financial settlement stemming from a British corruption probe into aircraft maker Bombardier after Jakarta was left out of a deal struck with Airbus three years ago.

Cahyo Muzhar, director general of administrative legal affairs at Indonesia’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, said Jakarta was “very unhappy” at being excluded from a €3.6 billion deferred lawsuit settlement that Airbus signed with authorities. French, British and American in 2020.

Airbus has admitted to a series of bribery and corruption offenses – spanning several countries – related to the European aircraft maker’s efforts to sell aircraft.

The €3.6 billion deal in January 2020 resolved what US officials described as a “massive” bribery scheme, which included kickbacks to executives at Indonesian state-owned airline Garuda.

Indonesia helped Western authorities uncover the kickbacks, according to Jakarta officials.

Jakarta spent around Rp2 billion on its own investigation into Airbus, which resulted in several convictions in Indonesian courts, including Emirsyah Satar, the former chief executive of Garuda.

“The UK has not suffered financial losses. Indonesia has suffered a financial loss,” Muzhar told the Financial Times.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Canada’s Bombardier over 2020 sales of aircraft to Garuda and asked Indonesia for help last year.

Jakarta has yet to hand over evidence to the SFO gathered from its own investigation into Bombardier and Garuda, and wants assurances that its role in uncovering wrongdoing would be recognized through a share of any proceeds from the deal, according to Indonesian government officials.

Indonesia has convicted one person and named four suspects in its Bombardier investigation.

Jakarta’s request to the SFO for a part of any future UK deal with Bombardier highlights how corruption-affected nations want compensation when they assist in corporate court settlements sought by Western countries, including Britain and the US.

The SFO informally sought Jakarta’s help with its Airbus investigation in 2017, according to Indonesian authorities.

Emirsyah Satar, chief executive of Garuda, walks down the stairs in a Bombardier CRJ1000 in February 2012, after agreeing to buy six jets with an option for 18 more © Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

They added that they expected the SFO to sue Airbus and were surprised to learn in 2020 that the UK had struck a deal with the European aircraft maker that Indonesia was not a party to, sparking deep resentment in the country.

The Indonesian government has sent two letters to the UK – both seen by the Financial Times – asking London to compensate Jakarta with Britain’s €991m share of the €3.6bn deal reached with Airbus.

The first letter, sent in June 2020 to then UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, said Indonesia had provided “critical evidence” to the SFO about corrupt deals involving Garuda, including bank account information, emails and contracts. of acquisition.

The second letter, sent in August 2020 and signed by Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Justice and Human Rights, stated: “Unfortunately I have not yet had the honor of a response.”

Jakarta has yet to receive an official response from the British government and is “questioning whether Indonesia and the UK really have a good relationship”, Muzhar said.

He was speaking after meeting SFO and government officials in London this month, where he asked for a response to Indonesia’s request.

Indonesia has made it clear that no evidence from Bombardier Jakarta’s investigation would be presented without a response, Muzhar said, although he added that things could be “done in parallel”.

UK officials said they would take “Indonesia’s request seriously”, he added. “We are confident that the UK will come up with something,” Muzhar said and Jakarta hoped the meeting would be followed by “concrete actions”.

The SFO said: “Our investigation into suspected bribery and corruption at Bombardier is ongoing.” The Home Office declined to comment.

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