Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caveat Emptor

An interesting piece on the Op/Ed page of the Jakarta Post. I can only advise anyone investing in real estate here not to bet the farm. Would love to know which of the gazillion villa projects currently underway this one is.

Letter: We find no justice

Wed, 11/25/2009 2:13 PM

We are Dutch who live in Spain. My husband was born in Surabaya and lived in Bandung until he was 17 years old. He still speaks Indonesian. We met someone in Bali who had a project to build 28 villas, but he needed investors.

We had a real estate company in Spain for 13 years and a big network. We had the investors and using our money, we could start the project. We used our money and our partner from Bali brought nothing.

When all the money was in, he started attacking us. Our office manager told us he would never give back our or our investor's money. This saga has gone on for almost five years. My husband is partner, investor and president commissioner, but when he asked four questions of our Bali partner, he got back four pages of rebuttal and no answers.

This partner took money out of the bank and put it in a private safe. He already had two high salaries. The budget, made by him to draw in investors, became three times the first budget's total, meaning there was no money left for the investors.

My husband had very good contact with all our employees, but our partner forbade them to talk to my husband, their boss. However, we found out there were several potential employees to build the villa's kitchens and one was his friend from Java. The pay was 30 percent higher than other employees. His friend got the position. Our partner earned money through commissions.

The partner then fired the employees, because they liked my husband too much. He employed new workers and forbid them to communicate with my husband and kept him away from the office. My husband arranged to have a forensic audit done by an accounting firm from Jakarta four times, two of which involving the police, but they were sent away by our partner.

One accountant had to wait an hour and a half outside, while the police were inside talking with our partner. Again they had to go. What went under the table? My husband wrote to ministers, we informed the Dutch and Canadian Embassies and more. We have hearings, but even when the outcome is positive, our partner offers much money to the judge. We are paying lawyers much money, but we go on, because there must be some justice in Indonesia.

It cannot be that somebody, who lives in Bali, can rip off hardworking and honest investors from Europe when he did not bring in one penny and wants to be the sole owner of the project, helped by police, judges and lawyers. My husband began a criminal case two times, but nothing has happened.

Now our partner is attempting to get his hand on all the documents to put the project under his name. But we will fight this until the end. And we will inform the media not to invest in Indonesia, because you can be sure about one thing, you will be cheated. There is no justice in Indonesia.

Clarie Morks

Marbella, Spain

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sock Puppets

I find this absurd. What purpose in having TV presenters in full ninja? Might as well just have sock puppets or a radio show. The show is aired in Saudi Arabia and you can follow the comments on Al-Arabiya.