JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Indonesian Supreme Court has ordered the release of American journalist Dalton Tanonaka less than a month after investigators from the Attorney General’s Office arrested him for fraud.
Supreme Court spokesman Andi Samsan Nganro said the court released the 66-year-old on November 2 after the justices upheld a Judicial Review or PK filed by his lawyer.
“The [Supreme Court] justices reviewing the PK ruled that Tanonaka defaulted on his contract instead of defrauding [his victim],” Andi said.
“So while his actions were undoubtedly illegal, they do not constitute a criminal offense.” He added that the ruling rendered Tanonaka’s three-year sentence null and void.
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A joint team from the Attorney General’s Office and the Central Jakarta District Attorney’s Office arrested Tanonaka at his Jakarta apartment on October 7, 2020.
The bust ended the former CNN Talk Asia host’s time on the run two years after the Supreme Court sentenced him to three years in jail for defrauding one of his investors in 2014.
“He was convicted of defrauding his prospective business partner $500,000 [Rp. 7.37 billion] in a fraud case dating back to 2014, when Tanonaka was a president-director [of the Indonesia Channel],” said Attorney General’s Office spokesman Hari Setiono.
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Hari added that the company had been making English-language programs about Indonesia to sell to production houses and TV stations in Indonesia and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region when the 66-year-old pulled his scam on his victim, who remained anonymous.
“Tanonaka convinced the victim to invest [in the Indonesia Channel] and make a 25 percent profit. His victim agreed to invest $1 million on condition that Tanonaka disclose more information about [the Indonesia Channel],” Hari added.
“Instead, Tanonaka convinced his victim to give $500,000 as a down payment. Contrary to his claims about [Indonesia Channel] making a profit, it had incurred major financial losses, prompting his victim to report [Tanonaka] to law enforcement and drag him to court.”
Prior to establishing the Indonesia Channel, Tanonaka was best known to Indonesian viewers as an anchor on Metro TV’s English language program Indonesia Now from 2006 to 2010.
(Writer: Ardito Ramadhan | Editor: Krisiandi)
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