New Twist in Kantor Kita Saga : Jailed Boss Set Up Her Own Bank

DENPASAR ~ The jailed boss of shuttered company-services firm Kantor Kita stockpiled cash to open her own bank, Bank Kita, but sold her majority stake following her arrest on embezzlement charges last year, The Bali Times has learned.

Esti Yuliani, 41, known to her mostly expatriate clients as Julie Edmond, was sentenced in November to two years in jail for stealing Rp25 billion (US$2.5 million) from a foreign investor, Don Worthington, who paid the money to purchase land in Bali.

The sale funds had been destined to go into an escrow account but instead appeared in an account at PermataBank to which Yuliani had access and withdrew large sums, the Denpasar District Court heard during her trial.

“She sold her shares after she was arrested,” Juni Hardi, head of the credit bank division of Bank Indonesia’s Bali office, told The Bali Times on Thursday.

Bank Kita is located in Kerobokan, North Kuta, and operates as a savings bank. Yuliani is serving her sentence at Kerobokan Prison.

Hardi said Yuliani set up the bank in 2007 with a business partner, I Nyoman Gunarsa, and after she was arrested on fraud charges sold her controlling shares to I Gde Wayan Margasuna, who, Hardi said, has experience in the banking industry and lives in Surabaya in East Java.

Bank Indonesia – the country’s banking authority – did not disclose the value of the share purchase, but Hardi said the tiny bank, which has only one branch, was currently “in a healthy state.”

Many former clients of Kantor Kita have said they too had been defrauded by the company – with estimates running to a collective $50 million scammed – and some are preparing legal action against Yuliani, who could face additional charges upon her release from jail.

The now-defunct Kantor Kita was set up by Yuliani in 2001 and provided services including purchase and sale of land and property and obtaining residency and work visas for foreign residents of Bali. Yuliani had passed herself off as a lawyer, but had in fact only attended a legal secretaries’ course in Sydney, Australia.

She is alleged to have acquired property in Asia and the United States while running Kantor Kita.

Shortly before Yuliani was arrested in April last year, Kantor Kita announced it was going into partnership with a Luxembourg-based financial advisory company, SFM Group. New signage was erected at Kantor Kita’s Sanur offices but later removed.

SFM, which has an office in Singapore and has done training work in Indonesia, has never responded to requests from The Bali Times for comment on its link with Kantor Kita.

Yuliani is divorced from Alvin Edmond, a Briton, who owns a marine service business on Serangan Island but who was deported from Indonesia late last year.

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