Flag carrier Garuda Indonesia president director I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, popularly known as Ari Askhara, is set to be relieved of his duties, as announced by Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir this afternoon.
The imminent sacking comes after customs officials reported their recent discovery of Harley Davidson parts and Brompton folding bicycles smuggled on board an Airbus A330-900 that was delivered to Garuda from France last month. An audit into the matter showed that the smuggled goods belonged to Ashkara.
“I have relieved Garuda’s president director of his duties,” Thohir said in a press conference in Jakarta today.
Since Garuda is a publicly listed company, Thohir said Askhara’s dismissal will be made official at an extraordinary shareholders meeting, which will be held imminently. In the meantime, Thohir said he will appoint a temporary replacement for Askhara.
According to Thohir, an audit into the case found that Askhara instructed Garuda employees to purchase the luxury goods in Europe and smuggle them into Indonesia. The purchase of the goods was carried out in April 2019 after Askhara wired the money to the private bank account of Garuda’s finance manager in Amsterdam.
It remains to be seen if Askhara would face further criminal sanctions.
Tax authorities in Indonesia have been cracking down on illegal luxury goods in recent months, with much emphasis placed on the monitoring of personal shoppers (locally referred to as jastip) who buy goods abroad for their customers in Indonesia. Among the luxury goods reportedly seized in recent busts include the new iPhone and luxury handbags — both of which are cheaper abroad.