Bisnis Bali reports foreigners, using the names of local counterparts, own many investments in Bali. The report contends, misrepresented ownership is a firm indication of the presence of money laundering and Bali needs to be more vigilant in uncovering and ending such practice.
A Balinese economist, Professor Dr. Wayan Ramantha on Tuesday, August 6, 2013, confirmed that money laundering is taking place on the Island. “Money laundering takes place everywhere, including Bali,” said Ramantha, adding “that money laundering in Bali involves financially strong individuals.”
The economist said greater caution and closer monitoring of foreign investment in the name of local a business partner is needed. Saying such investments are in violation of the law from their inception, Ramantha continued: “they (the investors) use take advantage of easier investment requirements extended to local business people. They also manage to save money on the cost of permits and licenses.”
Ramantha said the Provincial Investment Coordinating Board (BKPMD) must scrutinize and coordinated with the Central Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) in sharing information on quality investors. “When there are irregularities or suspicious elements (in investments) checks must be undertaken,” he said.
He said domestic and foreign investors in Bali should use the facilities prepared for domestic (PMDN) and foreign investment (PMA). In so doing, funds can be monitored by Bank Indonesia (BI) and Financial Services Authority of Indonesia (OJK).
Investors in Indonesia are compelled to make regular reports including clarifications on the source of their funds.
As reported by a number of media, there is a growing suspicion that money launderers are active in Bali. This suspicion has been strengthened by a number of cases in Bali where investments have been linked to corruption. However, the true extent and size of investments linked to money laundering and corruption remains anyone’s guess.
Separately, the chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati (Cok Ace), said proof of money laundering practice abounds in Bali in the form the large number of hotels being built without reference to their future financial viability and also by expensive hotels being built but unprofessionally managed with little concern if the subjects hotels are full of empty of guests. Cok Ace says individuals desperate to grant legitimacy to “dirty” funds by creating reportable assets are responsible for building these hotels.
The PHRI-Bali chairman said the current rise in property prices in Bali is also linked to the prevalence of money laundering by local businesses with unscrupulous investors prepared to pay any price for land, with no regard that their actions marginalize the endemic population of Bali.
The Cost of Land
Cok Ace, who is also a prominent hotel owner, said it is now difficult to find land in Denpasar priced at less than Rp. 100 million (US$10,000) per are (100 square meters). In fact, he said, the current price for one are is closer to Rp. 300 million (US$30,000) per are with some parcels of land selling at Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) per are.
He described the current free-for-all in Bali real estate as being controlled by Jakarta business interests. He also blamed a lack of control on the number of cases in Bali where blacklisted individuals involved in major corruption cases are investing freely in Bali. Cok Ace said this was, however, less the fault of investors and more closely related to a lack of local control over the investment process.
In closing, Cok Ace, said that the people of Bali do not want to make the Island a heaven for criminals and corruptors, adding that Bali must be made into a heaven for the people of Bali.