KPMG still baffled by duo’s detention

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 22 Sep 2005

KUALA LUMPUR: Family members of the two Malaysian KPMG accountants detained in Indonesia for purported visa violations have been to Sulawesi to see the duo, and the two young professionals generally have been “holding up well”, said a source from the auditing firm. 

The KPMG source said the parents of Choo Yao Chin and Raimala Sivalingam had been taken to Sulawesi and got to see and speak to them. 

“Their condition is well, which is a relief to us,” he said. 

He added that KPMG partners and advisers too had been in and out of Sulawesi to see the accountants and were trying all ways and means to get them released. 

“We are extremely concerned. We were baffled at the beginning when they were detained. And we remain baffled,” said the source. 

The two accountants – Choo, a 24-year-old male, and Raimala, a 29-year-old female – have been detained for over a month in Indonesia. 

The source said that as an international firm, KPMG had worked in many countries, including Afghanistan. 

“We have been in and out of Indonesia many times for due diligence work and this is the first time something like this has happened to us. We certainly didn’t expect this from an Asean country,” he added. 

Choo and Raimala were detained by the Sulawesi police on Aug 17 on grounds that they did not have a valid work visa. Choo is detained in a police cell with common criminals while Raimala is under police detention at a nearby hospital. 

The two professionals were on a business assignment at PT Inco in Sorowakom, Makassar, from July 27. 

In a legal document presented to the Indonesian side and a copy made available to The Star, KPMG lawyers state that the two accountants were not working for PT Inco and were not employees of the Indonesian mining company. 

This was evident, it said, from the fact that PT Inco made no payment of salary to the two and there was no contract between them. 

The visit of Choo and Raimala, the document states, was for a business assignment “on behalf of KPMG within the context of a business visit” which did not exceed the stipulated period of 30 days. 

At all material time, the two were employees of KPMG, states the document. 

It also states that the two did not violate the visa regulations because according to Article 3 of the Presidential decree No. 18 of 2003 (Indonesia), Malaysian passport holders are permitted to enter Indonesia without a visa for a short visit if the purpose is for recreation, tourism, business visit or governmental duties. 

As such, the legal document states that the two were in compliance with the presidential decree because their assignment fell within the purview of a business visit. 

As such, it adds, a business visit of not more than 30 days did not require a work visa. 

The KPMG source said the auditing department that Choo and Raimala worked in was rather close knit. 

“Morale has been affected by this incident,” he added.  

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