Top Bali Lawyer Struck Off
DENPASAR ~ A prominent Bali lawyer has been barred from practicing for a year over claims he embezzled funds from a British man investing in Bali.
In a judgment dated December 4, and revealed to The Bali Times this week, the Indonesian Lawyers Association (Peradi) struck off lawyer Rizaldy Watruty for failing to abide by their code of ethics and for cheating his client.
As reported by The Bali Times in May 2008, Briton Nicholas Hyam, now 51, signed up the services of Denpasar-based Rizaldy in order to set up a foreign direct-investment company (PMA) and purchase 2.86 hectares of land in Pererenan in North Kuta, where he intended to build a villa complex.
Hyam paid the lawyer US$5,000 to establish the PMA, but it was never done. Peradi said Rizaldy “has been proven to have just filled out the application forms and done nothing after that.”
The total Hyam paid for the land was Rp32.5 billion ($3.4 million) and he reported Rizaldy, who was working with a Canadian woman, Jeannette Machura – known as Gina and believed to be still living in Bali and offering investment opportunities in neighbouring Lombok – to Bali Police for allegedly stealing around $250,000 and failing to hand over the land certificates.
Peradi’s judgment also said that Rizaldy did not take adequate care of his client, which caused Hyam financial losses.
Rizaldy “did not assist his client as a good lawyer should … He did not explain fees and documents that had to be signed … to [Hyam] as the most important person in this investment process.”
The lawyer received payments from Hyam totalling Rp37 million but still sought a consulting fee of Rp15 million per month, in a cumulative invoice for Rp630 million, which Peradi ruled was unethical.
The five-man bench also ordered that Rizaldy pay Rp3.5 million in legal costs.
Reacting to the Peradi decision, Hyam told The Bali Times he was planning to appeal so that Rizaldy could never again practice law in Indonesia.
“I am grateful that they have seen through the lies told by Rizaldy at the hearing, and have seen fit to punish him. In my opinion, the punishment is inadequate and I am in the process of appealing the decision to seek that Rizaldy is permanently disbarred so that he does not have the opportunity to cheat other clients in the future,” he said.
Peradi is one bar association in Indonesia that issues licences to lawyers so that they can legally practice. In 2008, members of the association formed a rival grouping, the Congress of Indonesian Advocates (KAI).
Hyam, who lives in Bali, has managed to settle the land dispute with the aid of Bali Police, and is waiting for land certificates to be reissued by the Bali Land Department (BPM).
However, he said this week that the seller, Renta Situmorang, was appealing this decision, maintaining that the original documents were “out of the country.”Filed under: Headlines