Saturday, 2 May 2009

Bali Lawyers – Negotiators AKA extortionists?

Bali Lawyers – Negotiators AKA extortionists?
By Bali BS News
Sep 20, 2005, 10:24

This is a tale of how bad, neigh, how awful the lawyers are in Bali and Indonesia. It is a tale which somewhat confirms the awful reputation of Indonesian lawyers and how they routinely collude with the country’s corrupt mafia style police to extort money from their own clients. It is a story which spells out the horrible reality of having any form of business or family connection with Bali; that legal problems and the total cost to resolve those problems only become worse by appointing a lawyer. And the sad prospect that there are no, repeat no honest and professional lawyers in Bali, or likely for that matter in Indonesia.

It was respected Australian lawyer Mark Trowell QC who reported that the “coordinator” for Schapelle Corby’s former Balinese defense team, one Vasu Rasiah, asked the Australian government for $500,000 to bribe the judges, etc. to acquit Ms. Corby. Mr. Rasiah also gave Mr. Trowell this request in an unsigned letter but citing "lobbying" as the reason for the money. Given that lobbying is only really legitimate in the context of parties with a need to have laws passed or amended, there seems little doubt the use of that term was meant to spell things out while attempting to legally mitigate any legal repercussions. In addition to the bribe request, Mr. Trowell reports that Vasu Rasiah informed him “There were no lawyers in Indonesia, only negotiators”. Of course, the word “negotiator” has many possible interpretations, including extortionist.

It is ironic if Mr. Rasiah said this of his profession and of his colleagues, two of which were involved in the Schapelle Corby miscarriage of justice; Anggia M. Lubis Browne and her sister Lily Sri Rahayu Lubis (commonly know as Anggia Lubis and Lily Lubis). Perhaps the Lubis sisters are as good and as bad as every other Bali lawyer, but that will not give anyone seeking help from a Balinese lawyer any comfort when they read what we have to report about them, especially about Lily Lubis.

Lily Lubis was once the Balinese lawyer for one Mark Austin in his long standing legal battles with Jack Daniels (see report: Bali Discovery Tours). Seems at the very least Lily did not know even the basics of Indonesian law when she “represented” Mr. Austin. You see, Lily never met Mark Austin so she had to get a Power of Attorney (POA) from him legalizing her work on his behalf. The process of getting a legal POA under Indonesian law requires it be notarized if it is not signed by the client in front of the lawyer representing them. Further, if it is notarized in a foreign country, the document then has to be “legalized” by the Indonesian Embassy in that country. Lily Lubis simply took an un-notarized faxed document from Mr. Austin who was not in Indonesia. When Lily Lubis went to the police station, etc. on behalf of Mr. Austin, she was therefore not legally empowered to do so. The fact Lily Lubis had no understanding or regard for this fundamental basic law, due process, likely shows just how much of a true lawyer she really is. But it gets worse of course.

While working for and being paid by Mr. Austin, she enlisted help from her sister Anggia Lubis, supposedly also to help Mr. Austin. The trouble is, Anggia Lubis has or had business connections with his adversary, Jack Daniels, and had previously worked for Mr. Daniels on a legal basis. This should have immediately made her refuse any involvement under the basis of a conflict of interests; but it did not. Anggia offered her services free of charge to help Mr. Austin through her sister and try and find a solution to the police problem created by Jack Daniels. We will see this apparent tactic of being helpful and offering to work for free again later. But in contrast to the Lubis sisters’ legal obligation to him, their client, Mr. Austin has documented records of emails and faxes from the two Lubis sisters which almost certainly show they were actually working against Mr. Austin in favour of Mr. Daniels and the police.

This duplicity, neigh probable unlawful collusion seems to be proven beyond any doubt when they both informed Mark Austin they had a copy of a letter from a police officer in Bali to Jack Daniels confirming the police were acting upon a ludicrous complaint under a highly inappropriate and contentious law (see our report: Indonesian Criminal Libel) made by Mr. Daniels against Mr. Austin. The Lubis sisters clearly were trying to “mediate” and even used that term, but proved their true modus operandi when they refused to fax Mr. Austin a copy of the letter they claimed to have. The letter was important in that the police officially were claiming no such complaint or subsequent investigation existed, and the letter likely incriminated both Mr. Daniels and the police officer involved in the case with collusion and corruption. When Mr. Austin demanded they fax the letter to him before he considered the Lubis sisters’ “mediation offer”, as he was legally entitled to and had paid Lily for, and you would expect they would have done as a mater of course, they refused.

Lily and Anggia Lubis’ names came up again as the main defense lawyers during the high profile Schapelle Corby Trial. Aside from the questions raised against the Lubis sisters by token of Lily’s business partner, Vasu Rasiah’s request for $500,000 bribe (“lobbying”) money, they provoked heavy criticism for their handling of the case, especially regarding their failure to contest “admissibility”. “Contesting admissibility” meaning, in the context of Miss Corby’s trial, should have been to challenge the evidence on the basis it had been compromised (handled by police officers destroying any fingerprint evidence) and of the investigation itself, especially given the senior police officer involved doubted the ability to put Mr. Corby on trial. But then, if Ms. Corby’s head lawyer, Lily Lubis did not even know about such simple legal basics as due process, then how could she be expected to know about how to conduct a proper defense in court?

During the Corby trial it seems that Lily Lubis confirmed beyond doubt that she is a very duplicitous lawyer at best, a fitting testament to and example of the wholesale corrupt legal system in Indonesia at worst. You see during this same period, Lily Lubis contacted Harry Bleckert about his troubles with the police and prosecutors (see our reports: Bali Internet and Bali Police Corruption), offering to work for him for free (hmmmm, rings a bell)! Given her then albeit temporary esteemed profile and the fact she was already “dealing” with the very same chief prosecutor I Bagus Wiswantanu, Harry could hardly say no, could he?

Harry and his wife already had a lawyer, Azhari, after having fired another lawyer, Erwin Siregar for saying he could not act as a real lawyer but only as a negotiator to come up with a price with the police to close Harry and Sang’s case. But Harry allowed Lily Lubis to get involved to help his existing lawyer Azhari and signed her POA; big mistake! Lily Lubis said that she would file what is called an “exception”, a formal request to close the case based on it being so weak, especially as chief prosecutor I Bagus Wiswantanu had told the police he could not bring it forward to court as it was, for being a health risk, because the case was so weak. Seems fair and easy enough given that background right? Especially as the police were in a sticky position at that time for unlawfully seizing Harry’s business equipment and jailing his wife without charge (except for ignoring a summons into a failed investigation, which she did not ignore anyway).

But instead of filing an exception it seems Lily simply met with the prosecutors and judges, whom she was already “dealing” with over the Corby case, hmmmm. And then coincidently, or perhaps not, the police came up with a new reason for their actions, that the equipment they seized from Harry and Sang’s premises was not approved and therefore unlawful, even though this was clearly a desperate act and frivolous claim simply to mitigate their previous actions knowing a complaint had been filed against them with the Indonesian Corruption Commission. Naturally Harry and Sang were not happy about this new development and the fact that it seemed clear Lily had at best failed to deliver on her commitment to file an exception, and at worst played a distinct role in the new charge. They were also not happy that Lily had failed to attend court one day as she had promised. So Harry tried to confront Lily about these issues on her mobile. What did he say was her reaction? Why, like the caring lawyer she portrayed to get Harry’s POA in the first place, she said “later”, hung up on him, and then refused to return any of their calls; at that point Harry and Sang revoked their POA to Lily. Later they found out Lily was actually working with their first lawyer Erwin Siregar; hmmmmm. Seems like Lily either was trying to get a bite of the cherry Erwin had failed to, or was perhaps even paying the Bleckert’s back for firing Mr. Siregar, perhaps both.

We believe Mr. Siregar, Anggia and Lily Lubis to be commissionable negotiators, not real lawyers. We believe this is the way lawyers work throughout Indonesia. That Lily Lubis’ partner, Vasu Rasiah, was right when he reportedly told the Australian QC “There were no lawyers in Indonesia, only negotiators”. That is why Anggia Lubis was keen to work for “free” for Mark Austin “against” Jack Daniels and the police, and why Lily was also keen to work for free for Harry and Sang. We believe what most if not all lawyers in Indonesia do is go to the corrupt extortion money seeking police and judiciary of Bali and Indonesia, discuss how much money they think their victim can afford, and then decide how much each one is to get.

We believe this in part because of a substantiated report we received from someone who does not want their specific identity or details of this particular experience revealed for obvious reasons. They reported that one of the other widely known lawyers in Bali accompanied them to the Polda (head police station) in Denpasar, Bali, where police officers were questioning them about a range of subjects, but especially working illegally (their favorite thing apparently to catch foreigners out on and then extort money from them). The investigation eventually went nowhere, as the police had nothing but straws to clutch at. But in the midst of the process this well known lawyer reported to his client that the police had shown them a file with copies of all of the client’s investments in Indonesia. The lawyer did this in the police station after having a 10 minute meeting alone with the police officers while his client waited outside. The lawyer said he need to see these papers himself to make sure there was nothing in them the police could act on.

When his client called the Indonesian company who handled information on his investments, he was assured by them that the police had neither been there nor would they give such information to the police without a court order; the client smelt a rat of course. So they refused their own lawyers request to see their private investment details on the basis they did not believe the police had a copy of them. What happened next is all telling. The lawyer, after having left their client and after having learnt the identity of the company who did have details of his client’s investments, went without his client’s knowledge or permission to this company and demanded copies of the file claiming their mutual client had authorized this. Fortunately the company checked first with the client, and he of course denied this and told them not to divulge anything to the lawyer. The lawyer then got nasty and informed the company’s management that unless they gave him a copy of the file, he would have his contacts in the police force come around and both confiscate the records and make trouble for their company. Fortunately, they called this renowned Bali lawyer’s bluff and the police never actually came round.

This is why anyone who gets into trouble in Bali, even when that trouble is contrived through corruption, when they have done absolutely nothing wrong, their best bet is to pay the police off themselves as soon as possible after negotiating the amount down as far as they can, perhaps through a trusted Indonesian friend. But this resignation is also the reason why people should not travel to and especially not invest in Bali. Because foreigners are too often simply and jealously viewed as money trees, not human beings with rights. Until the Government of Indonesia lives up to its legal and moral responsibilities to both its own citizens and foreign visitors, it is the duty of foreigners to boycott Bali and Indonesia in order to apply sufficient pressure to get them to so act.

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