The missing $26 billion and the shocking downfall of Indonesia’s ‘perfect husband’ Harvey Moeis

The missing $26 billion and the shocking downfall of Indonesia’s ‘perfect husband’ Harvey Moeis
  • PublishedApril 14, 2024

Harvey Moeis and his famous wife Sandra Dewi appeared to have the perfect life in Indonesia.

A quick scroll through Ms Dewi’s Instagram account showed a fairy-tale wedding at Tokyo Disneyland and occasional glimpses of a luxury car collection.

The model and actress also regularly flaunts her luxury bags and jet-setting lifestyle.

Her son Raphael’s account, with 3.4 million followers, shows the toddler on a private jet, allegedly “gifted” to him by his father.

In now-deleted posts, the model and actress also posted pics of a stunning Victorian-era mansion in Melbourne replete with a tennis court, pool and in-ground trampoline.

Mr Moeis’s life was idyllic to the point where he was dubbed “the perfect husband” by online users in Indonesia.

But that all came crashing down earlier this week when Indonesian anti-corruption police arrested him and placed him in handcuffs.

Local media beamed his mugshot across the nation.

Harvey Moeis wearing a pink vest and a white face mask is escorted by Indonesia police.
Harvey Moeis’s arrest made headlines in Indonesia after he was linked to a corruption scandal.(Supplied: District Attorney Office)

Mr Moeis, along with 16 other suspects, is accused of money laundering as part of an enormous $26 billion theft of funds from a state-owned mining operation.

Others are expected to be named soon.

It’s the biggest corruption case in Indonesia’s history and allegedly involves the use of multiple shell companies to illegally divert profits from a state-owned tin miner to Mr Moeis and others.

The miner is also alleged to have carried out operations in areas beyond its exploration permit zones, causing huge amounts of environmental damage.

For years Mr Moeis lived the high-life to the envy of Indonesia’s online social media community.

Now his fortune is being picked over by investigators.

What is Harvey Moeis accused of?

Mr Moeis is accused of being a middleman acting on behalf of a private company to facilitate illegal mining in the state-owned company’s concession.

A man wearing a white shirt and jacket holds an umbrella while walking next to a woman wearing a pink jacket and jeans.
Harvey Moeis is by far the most high-profile suspect in the corruption scandal.(Instagram: @sandradewi88)

Investigators say he contacted another suspect from the miner to organise the illegal mining, and then contacted several smelter companies to facilitate the processing of the ill-gotten ore.

He has also been questioned about the alleged laundering of profits from the scheme through a corporate responsibility fund that was overseen by a socialite friend.

While Mr Moeis is by far the most high-profile suspect, some industry observers believe his alleged crimes show he is more of an operator rather than one of the biggest players in the scheme.

The shocking downfall of the ‘perfect husband’

The arrest of one of Indonesia’s most famous husbands has sent shock waves through the nation.

A close up of a man wearing a button up shirt with his arm around a woman wearing sunglasses.
Police found billions in rupiah during a raid on the family’s four-story home in a luxurious district of South Jakarta.(Instagram: @sandradewi88)

In the days following his questioning, images of Mr Moeis and Ms Dewi’s luxurious lifestyle were published by media outlets and online, many of them originally sourced from the family’s own social media accounts.

One of the pictures that has most fuelled public anger is the Victorian-era mansion in Melbourne. That, and the photo of their two-year-old on the private jet, that caught the attention of Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.

Last month, Mr Mulyani referred to the gifting of a “real” plane to a child as part of the corruption problem in Indonesia, an opaque reference to Mr Moeis just weeks before investigators made their move.

A woman smiles over a man's shoulder as he holds a little boy playing with a toy resting near a model plane.
In a post shared on Sandra Dewi’s Instagram account in 2019, her and her husband pose with their son in front of a model plane.(Instagram: @sandradewi88)

During a raid on the family’s four-story home in a luxurious district of South Jakarta, police found 76 billion rupiah ($7 million) in cash.

Officers say they also confiscated 1 kilogram of gold.

“As long as the assets are related to this case, [and] are being used as instruments of crime or the proceeds of crime, then certainly we will confiscate them,” said Kuntandi, the director of investigations at the attorney-general’s office.

So far Mr Moeis, Ms Dewi and their so-called “crazy rich” friend Helena Lim, who was also questioned, have declined to publicly comment as the investigation continues.

A woman in a black suit smiles with her hand on a little boy. A man stands next to her holding a child near a Christmas tree
As news of the corruption scandal became public, Harvey Moeis’s actress wife was also brought in for questioning.(Instagram: @sandradewi88)

“[Moeis and his wife were] too brave, too confident, too sure that they’ll be okay when flaunting their extravagant lifestyle,” said Yenti Garnasih, an economic criminal law expert in Jakarta.

“Many people are angered by this.”

Inside Indonesia’s corruption problem

While the enormous scale of the alleged theft has shocked Indonesians, the allegations of corruption involving the intertwining of business elites and the state are no surprise.

The country has been plagued by dozens of high-level corruption scandals in recent years.

Last year the head of a major private palm oil company was sentenced to 15 years in jail, over a corruption and money laundering scandal that prosecutors said cost the Indonesian state more than $9 billion.

The Supreme Court originally ordered conglomerate owner Surya Darmadi to pay more than $4 billion back to the state, but it was slashed to $210 million on appeal.

Investigators last year were also busy investigating the theft of more than $14 million from the pension fund of a state port operator.

While scandals have routinely involved the heads of state-owned companies and banks, they often too have embroiled members of parliament.

A former speaker of Indonesia’s parliament is serving 15 years in jail over the corrupt rollout of a national identity card initiative, which involved more than $200 million of government funds going to politicians, among others.

This latest case, involving the alleged misuse of mining permits, is a common problem in Indonesia, according to Dr Garnasih.

“Indonesia doesn’t have the tools to supervise properly after mining permits are granted,” she said.

“This problem keeps on happening, and in many cases, the perpetrators all have guardians and protectors backing them up, including officers from the military or police.”

What next for Harvey Moeis?

Indonesia does have an anti-corruption watchdog body, but its powers were weakened under former president Joko Widodo in 2019.

Joko Widodo sitting in front of a microphone
Joko Widodo oversaw the weakening of the powers of the anti-corruption watchdog.(Reuters)

The Corruption Eradication Commission was curtailed after staff increasingly opened investigations into members of the parliamentary coalition.

Mr Widodo will be replaced later this year as president by the winner of the recent national elections, Prabowo Subianto.

Mr Subianto, who hails from an extremely wealthy family, has largely pledged to continue Mr Widodo’s programs and policy agenda.

After his victory in February, he said his government “won’t compromise with corruption”.

But Dr Garnasih says with so many conflicts of interest among Indonesia’s governing and business elites, it’s inevitable corruption will persist.

“Corruption in Indonesia is abundant,” she said.

“I’m sure we’ll see more cases in the coming years.”

As for Mr Moeis, it’s expected the saga of the corruption scandal will only continue to play out over the next few months.

A close up of a dark haired woman wearing a button up shirt smiling next to a man in a dark shirt leaning over a carriage.
Indonesian actress and model Sandra Dewi (R) and her husband Harve


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *