Garuda Indonesia CEO Fired For Smuggling Harley Davidson

Filed Under: Garuda Indonesia

We sometimes hear about airline employees getting fired or arrested for smuggling of some sort, but in this case it’s an airline CEO’s turn.

Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises Minister has announced that Garuda Indonesia’s CEO will be fired. The reason? He smuggled some goods on the delivery flight of an A330-900neo last month.

Garuda Indonesia was excited to be taking delivery of their first A330-900neo, so as is the norm, airline executives flew to Toulouse to officially take delivery of the plane and fly it back home.

But that’s not all that they took home with them. Garuda Indonesia CEO Ari Askhara also brought a disassembled Harley Davidson motorcycle and two Brompton folding bicycles on this delivery flight.

Customs officials discovered the goods on the plane, though only wrapped up their investigation earlier this week.

They concluded that the CEO had instructed airline staff to find him a classic motorcycle back in 2018. Then the transaction was carried out in April 2019, through a bank transfer to the account of Garuda Indonesia’s finance manager in Amsterdam.

The problem is that they didn’t declare these goods. It also seems clear this wasn’t an oversight — a Garuda Indonesia spokesperson claimed that the goods had been declared, but that wasn’t the case. Presumably the CEO was trying to dodge the import tax on the products, which would have been tens of thousands of dollars.

As Indonesia’s State Owned Enterprises Minister explains:

“I will dismiss the Garuda president director and the process will be in accordance with regulated procedures.

It won’t end there. We will also look further if there are any other people implicated in this case. We will process this thoroughly as the case caused state losses.

This case has saddened me. While I’m working to raise the country’s image, some people within [SOEs] seem not to be ready.”

Askhara had been in his role at Garuda Indonesia since September 2018, after the previous CEO was fired for trying to make the company profitable. Askhara was previously the CEO of a state owned seaport operator, and prior to that was Garuda Indonesia’s CFO from 2014 until 2016.

  1. @Aaron not just airline executives…
    Even in highly-regarded Germany you have government executives smuggling expensive Persian carpets on government aircraft. And don’t even get started with the soldiers in Afghanistan. On nearly every single military flight from Afghanistan to Germany the hollows of the aircraft are filled with Opium to the brim. Always funny when an aircraft has a technical fault and gets diverted to the manufacturer for inspection…

  2. Ben, don’t take the story at face value: he may have committed those crimes, but it’s the norm in Indonesia. They are a convenient excuse to get rid of him for something else. A bribe not paid, a more powerful politician crossed, etc. is the real reason why he was let go. You actually have to dig to get the full story.

    The knifes are in full force.

  3. High import taxes and state controlled industry…a formula for this type smuggling and tax evasion.

  4. I say good riddance. Ashkara was tearing the airline apart with his cost cutting and indecision about long haul. Garuda needs to find someone like Satar again, who can make the airline good again.

  5. “after the previous CEO was fired for trying to make the company profitable.”

    Without context, that’s a pretty funny sentence. I don’t know the full background of that guy’s firing, but that’s hilarious.

  6. Susi Pudjiastuti of Susi Air/Fisheries Minister is supposedly the new CEO. She seems like a real go getter with solid private industry credentials. Given Garuda’s history, it should be a big improvement.

  7. New administration is getting ready to discipline these corrupt CEOs.
    @Charlie, you don’t know about Jokowi administrations. He’s gonna clean up these incompetent execs.

  8. His firing is actually a good thing for Garuda, because of this more and more of his corruption during his tenure as CEO is surfacing one by one. From why the real reason he re-routed the Jakarta-Amsterdam route to his mistress using the GA funds for plastic surgery and so on.

    Honestly, he had done some “strange” and dumbfounded policies for the airline during his “reign”. About time he is let go and hope the next CEO will bring Garuda once again to it’s right track.

  9. @Charlie and Ben,
    This was like the 5th controversial thing the disgraced CEO has done in the period of 14 months he had been a CEO of Garuda (5th in 14 months, imagine how many more if longer, not to mention value wise), so this was like the last straw for him.

    The cargo was purchased back in April, he ordered a Garuda staff in Europe to order and paid by direct transfer to a Garuda manager’s bank account. Then the CEO’s cargo was not all reported in the flight manifest (a deliberate ovesright by another Garuda staff) and whatever reported was under someone elses’s name. So this was carefully planned and executed.

    Beside trying to evade the import tax, he and his cronies of Garuda directors (all involved will be if not already disciplined) brought along his wife and theirs on this flight that is supposed to be just a skeleton flight. There is a flight passangers manifest going around in Indonesian websites. Talk about getting caught abusing power and privileges.

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