KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Indonesian police are looking to arrest Ralph Marshall, the right hand man of Malaysian multi-billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan, over fraud and money laundering charges, the republic’s media have reported.
Indonesian news outlets said that Marshall, who is group CEO of Astro All Asia Networks, is now officially on the Wanted Persons List (Daftar Pencarian Orang) and police chiefs across the country have been directed to arrest him.
This comes after Marshall was put under probe last October by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for charges related to criminal conspiracy over a deal involving Maxis and Indian telco Aircel.
BeritaSatu reported on April 22 that the Indonesian Police put Marshall on the Wanted Persons List after it was established that he was a suspect in a case of criminal forgery while he was involved with Astro’s Indonesian venture.
Marshall had earlier been accused of forging documents that resulted in some US$90 million (RM270 million) in losses to Astro’s then partner in Indonesia PT Ayunda Prima Mitra.
The attorney for PT Ayunda Prima Mitra, Eko Purwanto was quoted by BeritaSatu as saying that the Wanted Persons letter contained instructions for police chiefs across the nation to arrest Marshall and bring him in for questioning.
Abimanyu Kameshwara, another lawyer for First Media subsidiary Ayunda Prima Mitra, said Marshall was accused of misusing operational funds from Astro Nusantara worth US$90 million.
First Media is part of the Lippo Group, with which the Jakarta Globe is affiliated.
A pay television company partly owned by Ayunda, Direct Vision, partnered with Astro All Asia Networks from 2006 to 2008 to provide satellite television service for Indonesians under the Astro Nusantara trademark.
Astro Nusantara ceased operations in October 2008 due to a commercial dispute between Astro All Asia and Lippo Group, according to the Jakarta Globe.
Another report in Republika Online on April 25 quoted Astro’s lawyer as saying that Marshall would not surrender himself to Indonesian authorities.
Astro’s attorney, Hafzan Taher, said the allegations against Marshall were groundless and “misleading,” according to a report in the Jakarta Globe.
“Ralph Marshall never had an operational function in Direct Vision nor did he ever have responsibility in the company,” Hafzan’s law firm, Soemadipradja & Taher, said in a statement.
“If he goes to Indonesia, it would be the same as handing his neck over for a hanging,” said Hafzan. “This is an unfortunate situation as Ralph Marshall is the CEO of a large concern.”
Hafzan had also earlier demanded a clarification from the police over the naming of Marshall as a suspect as he claimed that the police had dropped the case in 2010 due to a lack of evidence.
According to Media Indonesia, Marshall is being suspected of forging documents that made it appear as if Direct Vision was in debt to Astro Nusantara to the extent that it incurred losses to PT Ayunda Prima Mitra to the tune of US$90 million.
Closer to home, Indian police arrived in Malaysia late last month in a bid to gain access to information related to Maxis’s controversial acquisition of India’s Aircel that allegedly involved RM351 million in kickbacks to former Indian Telecommunications Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother.
The CBI had filed the graft case on October 10 last year against Ananda, who controls Maxis, Marshall, who is a non-executive director at Maxis, and the Marans.
“The agency wants to know details of some financial transactions… besides recording the statement of a non-executive director of the company who has been named… by CBI in October last year,” The Times of India reported, referring to Marshall.
Both Dayanidhi and Maxis have denied any wrongdoing, with the latter insisting its RM2.5 billion purchase of the Aircel stake from Sivasankaran was on a willing-buyer, willing seller basis.
By Lee Wei Lian