A New Bank of Crooks and Criminals

A New Bank of Crooks and CriminalsThe Cyprus-based FBME bank, permanently blocked in April by a US court from access to the US banking system and thus basically shut down, has among its depositors arguably the biggest collection of financial outlaws the world has seen in decades. It is as if every illicit international operation on the globe from the Russian…

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian Bank

Japanese Firm Got Almost a Free Indonesian BankA scandal-plagued Indonesian bank, now in the hands of a controversial Japanese company, was sold to its new owners for virtually nothing, adding another layer of intrigue to the long saga of what was once the notorious Bank Century.  It is now doing business as PT Bank J Trust Indonesia TBK.  The result, since Century's…

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese Group

New Mystery For Controversial Japanese GroupThe Japanese conglomerate J Trust Group, which has come under the spotlight for a series of financial inconsistencies in Indonesia, Thailand and Cyprus, has added another. On April 14, an apparently frustrated J Trust put out a press release accusing the South Korean Financial Services Commission of refusing to act on a J Trust request…

Indonesia’s Rogue Bank

Indonesia’s Rogue BankIn a country replete with financial scandals, there are few with as many twists and turns as Bank Century, whose near failure in 2008 spurred fears of a systemic collapse of Indonesia’s financial system before it was taken over by Bank Indonesia, the central bank, and fashioned into what became Bank Mutiara. The  bank is…

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian Visit

The Real Reasons for the Saudi King’s Asian VisitModerate Muslims and non-Muslims alike may worry that the high-profile visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Malaysia and Indonesia signals another Saudi Salafi assault on traditionally more flexible Southeast Asian interpretations of Islam. But the royal tour, which also includes official visits to Japan and China as well as holidays in non-Muslim Bali, and…

Indonesia Warns US Mining Giant in Fresh Dispute

Indonesia Warns US Mining Giant in Fresh DisputeThere is rising concern among business sources in Jakarta that tension between the Indonesian government and the US-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, Indonesia’s oldest foreign investor, which has been in a months-long deadlock over future mining, could affect relations between Washington and Jakarta. In addition to taking off a huge share of Freeport’s profits, business sources…

Bribery and Airlines: Business as Usual

Bribery and Airlines: Business as UsualThe naming of Garuda Indonesia’s former chief, Emirsyah Satar, by the Corruption Eradication Commission as a bribery suspect in the purchase of Rolls-Royce aircraft engines is just the latest chapter of a long string of such cases stretching across Asia and across generations. Indeed, the British aerospace giant, the world’s third-largest engine manufacturer after General…

Indonesia Presents Google With Huge Tax Bill

Indonesia Presents Google With Huge Tax BillIn a move that has sparked deep concern among the multinationals doing business in Indonesia, Jakarta is going after Google Asia Pacific to try to force the communications giant to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.  Other tech giants may be under fire as well. The government alleges Google has obtained hefty revenue…

Controversies Haunt Jokowi’s Tax Amnesty Program

Controversies Haunt Jokowi’s Tax Amnesty ProgramThe Indonesian government is going all-out to promote a tax amnesty program amid jitters from Singaporean bankers, who are estimated to hold tens of millions in assets spirited overseas, and by reformers, who say the amnesty gives fugitives too good a deal. The program is aimed at rich Indonesians who have undeclared assets overseas, with…

Indonesia’s Fire Season: Bad but Not As Bad

Indonesia’s Fire Season: Bad but Not As BadIndonesia’s fire season, in which hundreds of thousands of hectares of primary forest and peatland go up in smoke annually to be replaced by oil palm and paper plantations, is underway, with satellites recording hundreds of hot spots on Sumatra and Kalimantan. However, according to the nonprofit environmental science and conservation website Mongabay, the fires,…
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