Indonesian Land Sale Man Sought Over $200,000 ‘Scam’

DENPASAR ~ Bali Police have put a fugitive Indonesian property company director on their most-wanted list following the arrest of two British citizens resident here over an alleged property scam involving a Russian.

The man on the run was named by police as Agus Setiawan Wawo Runtu, commissioner of Asian Estates Investment, who listed a residential address in Jl Danau Tamblingan, Sanur. Police said the address does not exist.

His two expatriate colleagues, Christopher Forbes, 50, and Angus Jackson, who operate from offices in Seminyak, were arrested on Christmas Eve when police acted on a complaint by a Russian citizen, Dmitri Dhernikov, that in 2008 he had paid US$200,000 to Wawo Runtu through an account at PermataBank, had then reconsidered the deal to purchase land at Balangan Beach on The Bukit in south Bali and asked for the money to be returned. Dhernikov says it never was.

Forbes, who lives at Bali View Apartments in Jl Nakula, Legian, was later released from jail. It was not clear today whether Jackson had also been released.

The attorney for the two men, Reza Akbar Maya Poetra, told local media he was mystified why his clients had been arrested when it was clear Dhernikov had paid his $200,000 to Wawo Runtu and had asked him to refund it.

He said: “On May 13, 2008, Dmitry Dhemikov claims he transferred Rp2 billion ($200,000) to the account of Wawo Runtu at PermataBank as the downpayment for the purchase of the land. I don’t know why Dmitry Dhernikov cancelled the transaction and asked for his money to be returned. The money requested by Dmitry was not returned by [Wawo Runtu].”

Poetra said there were irregularities in Wawo Runtu’s explanation why the money was not returned, including that he had forgotten Dhernikov’s address.

“Based on statements such as these made (by Wawo Runtu) to the investigators, it appears strange that my clients are the ones who were arrested. This was an electronic transfer of money. OK, the arrest of my clients is the right of the police, but there are rules to be followed,” he said.

The head of Denpasar Police criminal division, Rendra Radika Dewayana, denied police had been selective in who they arrested. “[Wawo Runtu] is being sought. The address he provided in the case was fictive. He is now listed on the most-wanted list of the Bali Police. The case is ongoing.”

Wawo Runtu is listed on the web-based business site LinkedIn as director of PT Birdlands. Information on the site says the company focuses on environmentally aware development. He says on the site that he writes a blog at

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10 Responses to “Indonesian Land Sale Man Sought Over $200,000 ‘Scam’”

  1. made jaya Says:

    Good to hear that the police are acting on catching property scams in Bali. As this is happening throughout Bali, Property ethics and procedures are surely being not practiced and the police should be acting more on harshly on these scams happening. such as Kantor Kita and many others whom are somehow being undetected.

    Also with the increasing number of foreign run-owned property comapnies on the island represents a great number of expatriates whom live in Bali illegally without the correct procedures such as business licenses, paying taxes or visa requirements. If anything happens to Bali they can just simply leave this island and go to the next hot spot. I hope our Government will see this and have a large crackdown on these foreign owned small businesses. 2010 will be that year.

    Sustainability is a word that needs to start being incorporated to Bali and hopefully the near future the Balinese will respond to this with the correct leadership and policies in place to make this a reality. If not Bali will lose its identity.

  2. Lawrence Says:

    As one of Bali’s oldest realtors I have been predicting for some time that many of the companies and villa operators in Bali are here for today and will be gone tomorrow.

    They have been making guarantees that would put you in jail in most Western countries such as guaranteed rate of returns.

    How can you guarantee a rate of return if in fact three bombs went off tomorrow.Bali tourism would die. Where would the company obtain the money to pay the ongoing guaranteed rate of return.

    The question I have regarding the article above is what are the terms and conditions of the contract that the Russian, Dmitry Dhemikov signed with Asian Estates.

    The bottom line is if Asian Estates has kept their commitment to the terms of the contract the Russian does not deserve his deposit back.

    If on the other hand Asian Estates had violated the contract the Russian deserves his money back in a prudent time.

    I assume that the Russian took proper legal action before he reported them to the police.

    In most countries this would be a civil suit and not a criminal action.

    At any rate this is why in most Western countries that have licensed real estate agencies who have passed stringent tests and follow very strict laws.

    Anybody can sell real estate in Bali and 90 % of them have never passed a real estate test in their life.

    Today’s sarong salesmen is tomorrows real estate agent and will tell you anything you want to hear to get the deal without worrying about repercussions later.

    As I said for 13 years in Bali “Assume nothing and trust no one unless they have strong references from other foreigners who have done successful business with them”.

    It’s also why it’s very important that anyone considering purchasing land or leasing land do due diligence with a top-notch attorney before they purchase.

    Caveat emptor . Let the “Buyer beware.

  3. adam Says:

    Lawrence, could you refer me to a trusted real estate company in bali. Are you a real estate agent, yourself. cheers.

  4. Russ Trapani Says:

    I Live and work in Northern California and do Commercial Real Estate loans and consulting for my clients such as Colliers International…24 Hour Fitness and Americap Investments to name a few. Integrity is so very important dealing with both commercial and residential properties / clients with full disclosure. Having a business or real estate licence is important..but is not worth the paper its written on if not represented by a trustworthy business or consultants. I have seen this so many times over here when you have a new flock of licensed agents graduate only to find out that when you get out in the real world..away from the books…they find out it takes years to build a client base…and understand this business and how to service and follow through with a clients needs. Understanding lenders…lawyers..appraisers…underwriters and lending profiles takes some time and can not be learned in a class. Its a applied dynamics!. We have seen in this country the failure of many lending institutions and mortgage companies…and 3 years before the falling of property values…we saw the lenders recalling loans they approved without truly qualifying its borrowers while applying loan programs with no rate caps…option arms that were not fully disclosed as to how they recast and adjusted…and the end result were millions of home owners that got caught in a mortgage vacuum …unqualified borrowers that lost their homes and all were working with… licensed brokers and agents. To have credentials is one thing..but to have the ability to apply good business practices is yet again another story.

  5. Bob Says:

    hahahahaha I went to the tourist police once to report a accident….. they were more interested in selling me a villa hahahahhaha the cops are prolly in on it dude!

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