Citibank’s Indonesian Scandal Deepens As Convicted Debt Collectors Go Missing
The Huffington Post | By Alexander EichlerPosted: 07/27/2012 10:05 am Updated: 07/27/2012 10:05 am
Irzen Octa, an Indonesian businessman, died in a Citibank office under mysterious circumstances last March, while debt collectors were questioning him about money he owed on a Citibank credit card. Now, two of the three collectors convicted in Octa’s death are reportedly on the run from the law.
Arif Lukman and Henry Waslinton, who were each sentenced to five years in prison last month for their role in the March 2011 interrogation, have failed to answer a court summons for detention, according to the Jakarta Globe. On Wednesday, both men were declared fugitives.
Octa, who owed Citibank more than $11,000 at the time of his death, met with third-party collectors on March 28, 2011, in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. He was found dead in the Citibank office that afternoon. Following Octa’s death, there were conflicting reports as to the cause. Medical professionals have disagreed on whether hypertension played a role in Octa’s death, and whether he was physically assaulted before he died. Post-mortem reports from various doctors have given his cause of death as asphyxiation, brain hemorrhage and “blunt violence,” according to The Washington Post.
Lukman and Waslinton — who were found to have “deprived the liberty on purpose and against the law that resulted in someone’s death,” according to a spokesman for the Jakarta High Court — are not Citibank employees. Rather, they worked for an outside collections agency that Citibank used to chase down outstanding debts.
Since the incident, Citibank has brought its debt collection practices in-house in Indonesia, hiring 1,400 on-the-ground workers to handle collection activity.
It’s still not clear how, exactly, Octa died, or what role the debt collectors played apart from being present at the scene. The debt collection industry in Indonesia is not strictly regulated, and it’s common practice for banks based elsewhere to hire local companies to do their collections work in the country.
In the past, Citi customers in India have alleged that debt collectors working on behalf of the bank threatened to kill them or remove their organs if they did not pay. A Citi spokeswoman told reporters that these were “isolated cases.”
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