For Billy Sindoro, Christmas has always been a time for his family and his church.
This year, however, the former executive of Internet and cable-television company PT First Media Tbk spent the holiday at the West Jakarta Police detention facility.
Investigators from the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, arrested Sindoro, along with Muhammad Iqbal of the Business Competition Supervisory Commission, or KPPU, in September and accused him of attempting to bribe Iqbal.
“This Christmas is exceptionally hard for me,” Sindoro told the Jakarta Globe in a meeting room at the detention facility on Christmas night.
“My wife and kids,” he said. “I have two kids, they both study abroad. Christmas is the time they come home. It has always been the day we all look forward to. It’s different now, how can I describe it?”
He said that looking at his children when they come to visit left him “shaken.”
His eyes wandered around the room, gazing at the dirty ceiling covered with dust and cobwebs, the rundown walls peppered with cracks and leaks, at the policemen standing by across the room and other detainees peering through the window.
“Chaos, that’s what I felt when I first got here, my heart was in chaos. I did not understand what was going on,” he said.
He said that he was first put in a tiny cell with a dozen other inmates, some of whom were hardened criminals and drug addicts.
“I thought to myself, what did I do to deserve this? I have done nothing wrong,” he said, his voice trembling with emotion.
However, Sindoro said that he has since found peace by entrusting everything to God.
“God must have a plan for me. He wouldn’t give me a burden that I could not bear,” he said.
Later in the evening, Sindoro’s wife, children and in-laws attended a Christmas celebration at the station. They declined to comment.
Sindoro is accused of giving Iqbal Rp 500 million ($45,500) to influence a KPPU ruling on a monopoly case involving PT Direct Vision, an associate company of First Media.
Iqbal was on the KPPU panel hearing complaints against Direct Vision and three other companies — pan-regional cable TV company Astro All Asia Network, Astro’s content arm, All Asia Multimedia Networks, and ESPN Star Sports. The complaints centered on an alleged monopoly over the broadcast rights for last season’s English Premier League football matches.
On Aug. 29, the KPPU cleared Direct Vision and Astro of wrongdoing and found All Asia and ESPN guilty of monopolistic practices. The commission also ruled that Astro, then in a dispute with Direct Vision over a joint venture, must continue to provide content to Direct Vision.
Prosecutors allege that bribe money was paid to Iqbal to get the article on content provision inserted in the commission’s decision.
Sindoro’s lawyer, Humprey Djemat, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that it was Iqbal who informed Sindoro, at that point no longer a First Media executive, about Astro’s decision to shift the provision of content from Direct Vision to Aora TV.
“Even though he had retired from First Media, DV was his baby,” Humprey said. “He was there before it even started. So he agreed to discuss the matter with Iqbal. Iqbal said there should be an article that prevented the move and Billy agreed to draft it.”
Humprey said the case was a misunderstanding.
“You see, Billy often forgets things, he is well known for that,” he said, adding that the Rp 500 million had been intended for DV’s lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea, and somehow was given to the wrong recipient.