Owner of popular cell phone store under city arrest for allegedly selling illegal iPhones

Putra Siregar, a businessman from Batam who owns popular cell phone store chain PS Store, has been charged for allegedly selling iPhones obtained from the black market and has been placed under city arrest. Photo: Instagram/putrasiregarr17
Putra Siregar, a businessman from Batam who owns popular cell phone store chain PS Store, has been charged for allegedly selling iPhones obtained from the black market and has been placed under city arrest. Photo: Instagram/putrasiregarr17

Putra Siregar, who owns popular cell phone store chain PS Store, has been charged for allegedly selling iPhones obtained from the black market and has been placed under city arrest

The businessman from Batam, Riau Islands, who’s also known for his large online following and relations with celebrities, has come forward to claim that he had been “trapped” by a friend. 

The Jakarta office of the Directorate General of Customs and Excise recently posted about the case on their official Instagram page, stating that they seized evidence in the form of black market cell phones from the suspect. However, the post currently up on their feed identifies Putra by his initials only, as the original one was reportedly taken down after the suspect objected to his uncensored photo being put on display.

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Bea Cukai secara konsisten terus melakukan pengawasan terhadap kegiatan peredaran barang-barang ilegal. Pada hari Kamis, tanggal 23 Juli 2020, Kantor Wilayah Bea dan Cukai Jakarta telah melakukan Tahap II (Penyerahan Barang Bukti dan Tersangka) ke Kejaksaan Negeri Jakarta Timur atas hasil penyidikan tindak pidana kepabeanan. Penyerahan barang bukti dan tersangka tersebut dilaksanakan atas pelanggaran pasal 103 huruf d Undang-undang No. 17 tahun 2006 tentang Kepabeanan. Tersangka berinisial PS telah diserahkan beserta barang bukti antara lain 190 Handphone bekas berbagai merk dan uang tunai hasil penjualan sejumlah Rp 61.300.000,-. Selain itu, juga diserahkan harta kekayaan/penghasilan Tersangka yang disita di tahap penyidikan, dan akan diperhitungkan sebagai jaminan pembayaran pidana denda dalam rangka pemulihan keuangan negara ( Dhanapala Recovery ) yang terdiri dari uang tunai senilai Rp 500.000.000,-, rumah senilai Rp 1,15 Milyar, dan rekening bank senilai Rp 50.000.000,-. Penyerahan barang bukti dan tersangka tersebut merupakan salah satu bentuk komitmen Bea Cukai untuk melindungi masyarakat dari peredaran barang-barang ilegal serta mengamankan penerimaan negara. Ke depannya, Kanwil Bea Cukai Jakarta akan terus berusaha melindungi industri dalam negeri sehingga penerimaan negara dapat optimal. Nah Sobat K'Jak, yuk lebih bijak dan berhati-hati dalam berbelanja meski diiming-imingi dengan harga yang murah. Jangan sampai Sobat membeli produk-produk yang ilegal ya. Karena berbelanja produk #legalitumudah kok. #beacukaimakinbaik #Kjakberintegritas #bckanwiljakarta #KjakmenujuWBK2020

A post shared by Kantor Wilayah DJBC Jakarta (@bckanwiljakarta) on

“The case of the suspect with the initials PS has been handed over [to the East Jakarta District Attorney], along with evidence of 190 used cell phones from various brands and cash from sales worth IDR61.3 million (US$4,225),” the caption reads.

Putra has been charged with violation of Article 103 of Indonesia’s Customs Law on hoarding and selling imported goods not registered with customs, which carries a maximum punishment of eight years in prison or a fine between IDR100 million and IDR5 billion.

Ricky M. Hanafie, who heads the Compliance and Public Relations Unit at the Jakarta Customs Office, said authorities confiscated the illegal goods back in 2017 and that Putra has been cooperating during the whole process. 

“Yes, since 2017, our investigation began with reports from the public. The illegal goods [were confiscated] because the concerned party couldn’t show any customs documents,” Ricky said.

Through PS Store, Putra is renowned among gadget aficionados for selling new and refurbished iPhones cheaper than market prices as well as holding giveaways — the latter bringing him online fame, as Apple devices are regarded as a luxury among the majority of Indonesians. As of today, Putra has more than 1.6 million Instagram followers and 1.43 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, Putra Siregar Merakyat (meaning “Humble Putra Siregar”). Though he started his business in Batam, PS Store has branched out to other cities, including Jakarta.

On the internet, Putra often shares his success story, claiming to have come from a working class family and starting his hugely successful business from zero. He is also known for his charity activities and friendship (or rather, partnership) with major local celebrities and influencers such as Raffi Ahmad, Baim Wong, and the Halilintar clan. 

Putra has since released a written statement detailing what went down in 2017, claiming that he was trapped by someone he considered a friend. According to the businessman, he received a call from a colleague, identified as J, who allegedly made a sales pitch, which later turned out to be the purchase of illegal items. Putra claimed to have not seen the goods, further detailing that he ended up telling J to drop the items off at one of his stores in East Jakarta. 

“I was trapped, I was told to buy goods from my own friend, someone I knew well, but when I got there, he came with customs officers,” Putra wrote in the statement.

Then, Putra said J, as well as a person identified as R, went to the store with customs officers and confiscated dozens of phones and cash, allegedly without a warrant.

Putra alleged that both J and R are the ones trading illegal black market phones, though neither seem to be on the authorities’ radar. Putra said he was caught by surprise to have been named a suspect three years after the incident as well. In addition, he criticized the Customs Office for displaying his photo publicly, which he said is staining his reputation.   

“I only have customs issues, but my photo was clearly displayed. This is character assassination.”

The case, which has captivated many in Indonesia, is still developing with a trial date to be set soon.

Black market phones, which include unregistered devices imported from abroad, can be considerably cheaper than their retail versions. They are quite popular in Indonesia, with a government estimate putting the number of active black market phones in the country at around 20 percent.

Also Read IMEI regulation blocking illegal cellphones in Indonesia to take effect on April 18

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