Only 3.5 years for ACT boss convicted of embezzling IDR117 billion from Lion Air crash fund

ACT founder Ahyudin. Photo: Facebook
ACT founder Ahyudin. Photo: Facebook

Charity organization ACT (Aksi Cepat Tanggap) founder Ahyudin has been sentenced to just 3.5 years in prison after he was found guilty of misappropriating IDR117 billion (US$7.8 million) out of a fund set up to aid the families of the 2018 Lion Air crash victims.

The South Jakarta District Court handed down the sentence yesterday, which was a few months short of the four years demanded by prosecutors in the case. Ahyudin is considering filing an appeal.

In an earlier hearing, Ahyudin’s lawyers begged for an acquittal on humanitarian grounds, as their client has 14 children he has to provide for.

Another former ACT executive, Ibnu Khajar, was sentenced to three years in prison.

As Indonesia’s largest private charity foundation at the time, ACT was entrusted by Boeing to handle a victims’ fund totaling IDR138 billion (US$9.2 million), including for social programs such as the construction of schools in the victims’ name.

The court found that ACT only directed IDR20.5 billion (US$1.3 million) towards the fund’s intended use, while the foundation embezzled the remaining IDR117 billion.

All 189 passengers and crew were killed in the Oct. 29, 2018 crash, which investigators say was mainly caused by the improper design and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The Lion Air scandal was just one of many corruption scandals surrounding ACT. In July 2022, the government revoked ACT’s Money and Goods Collection Permit for violating a rule that states charity organizations may only use up to 10 percent of donated funds for operational purposes.

ACT, by its own admission, took 13.7 percent.

A report by Tempo pinned ACT executives for misappropriation of funds, including rewarding themselves with exorbitant salaries and numerous perks from the job.

Tempo reported that Ahyudin, who chaired ACT until January 2022, took home a salary of IDR250 million (US$16,664) per month and had bought several cars, including a luxurious Toyota Alphard, using the organization’s funds for his official use.

Tempo’s report unearthed more shadiness within ACT, with the Center for Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis (PPATK) announcing that it suspects the organization may have been funding terrorist groups.

ACT, which is among the most prominent aid givers especially in times of disasters in the country, is reportedly the largest charity organization in Indonesia, collecting IDR500 billion (US$33.3 million) in public donations from 2018 to 2022. The figure dwarfs those of other prominent organizations like Dompet Dhuafa and Rumah Zakat, which collected IDR375 billion (US$25 million) and IDR224 billion (US$14.9 million) during the same period, respectively.

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