James Riady, 55, Chairman of Lippo Group, Indonesia.
He was barred from America after pleading guilty in 2001 to a 'conspiracy to defraud the US' through illegal contributions to the campaigns of Bill Clinton and other Democrats.
Astro is satisfied that there is no basis whatsoever for any of these allegations, which are consistent with the pattern of behavior of the Lippo Group, where allegations of criminal misconduct are repeatedly raised against Astro, its senior executives and others, in what appears to be an attempt to lend credibility or to provide a basis for the Lippo Group to challenge the enforcement of an Award in favour of Astro for the sum of US$300 million, in Indonesia, and so avoid having to pay Astro.
Astro proposes to commence proceedings in compliance with Indonesian laws, and pursuant to the New York Convention, to obtain an execution order from CJDC to enforce the Award, which will oblige the bailiffs to seize and liquidate the assets of First Media and the Lippo Group in order to satisfy the amounts due to Astro under the Award. These assets include shares held by First Media in PT Link Net, which, on the basis of the CVC investment, is estimated to be worth in excess of USD275 million.
Astro became aware that First Media is owed US$44 million by AcrossAsia, and had, on 25 July 2011, successfully obtained a garnishee order nisi from the Hong Kong High Court requiring AcrossAsia to make payment of this sum to Astro, and not to First Media. The Lippo Group has in March 2012, raised objections to and appealed the order of the Hong Kong High Court.
By way of a circular to shareholders in May 2011, AcrossAsia Limited (“AcrossAsia”), a member of the Lippo group of companies and listed on the Growth Enterprise Market of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and the controlling shareholder of First Media, announced that CVC Capital Partners had invested US$275 million into PT Link Net, a subsidiary of First Media in Indonesia. Consequently, the shares in PT Link Net held by First Media are estimated to be worth at least, if not more than, US$275 million. Therefore, First Media, and the Lippo Group, clearly have sufficient assets to discharge their payment obligation to Astro under the Award.
Astro sought, and was granted, a worldwide mareva injunction on 8 July 2011 by the Singapore High Court which would require First Media to declare all of its assets, and also to restrict First Media from disposing any of these assets pending full satisfaction of the Award. The Lippo Group has not complied with these orders and has, instead, appealed against the decision of the Singapore High Court in September 2011.
First Media has appealed the registration of the Award, and is challenging enforcement of the Award on the grounds that the arbitral tribunal had no jurisdiction, the proper forum for the dispute being the courts of Indonesia, and as such, the Award violates public policy in Indonesia. The Lippo Group had submitted themselves to and participated fully in the arbitration proceedings, through eminent counsel and their own witnesses, and at no time did the Lippo Group raise any issue of criminal misconduct during these proceedings, or indeed in their challenge of the enforcement of the Award.Astro has registered the Award in the High Court of Malaya, the Singapore High Court, the Hong Kong High Court and the Central Jakarta District Court of Indonesia (“CJDC”), and has initiated proceedings to enforce the Award in the relevant territories that are signatories to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“New York Convention”).
In February 2010, a tribunal comprising internationally renowned arbitrators, unanimously ruled in favour of Astro and awarded Astro US$300 million in damages, interest and costs (“Award”). The Lippo Group has to date not paid any part of the Award.
In 2008, about the time parties were attempting to resolve the dispute relating to the establishment of the pay-TV business of PT Direct Vision and during the course of the subsequent arbitration proceedings in 2009, police reports had been filed by certain individuals associated with the Lippo Group, alleging criminal misconduct against certain senior executives of Astro, including Astro’s Executive Deputy Chairman, Mr. Ralph Marshall, and employees of PT Direct Vision. The Indonesian police conducted extensive investigations on these allegations with the full co-operation of all the parties named in the police reports, including Mr. Marshall, After a full investigation, Indonesian police concluded that there was no evidence of criminal conduct. As such, the Indonesian police issued an order to cease investigations on the basis they were satisfied there was no evidence whatsoever to support the allegations.
In 2005, Astro entered into a joint venture with First Media and certain other affiliates of the Lippo Group, to set up a DTH pay-TV business in Indonesia to be launched by PT Direct Vision, a subsidiary of First Media. The joint venture was not concluded, and pursuant to the dispute resolution process agreed between the parties, Astro commenced arbitration proceedings against Lippo Group under the Singapore International Arbitration Centre Rules to recover approximately US$560 million which it had incurred to establish the pay-TV business for PT Direct Vision.
Astro’s lawyers have rejected the allegations, labeling them as “misleading”. “What is happening here is very clear,” said Astro’s lawyer Hafzan Taher. “Astro and Lippo had a commercial dispute and decided to resolve it through international arbitration. Lippo lost the case and was ordered to pay up to US$300 million in damages to Astro, and it is trying to avoid doing so by filing criminal charges against Mr. Marshall. Their calculation is that if they can exploit the criminal law to cause confusion and fear, they can avoid paying the damages.”
These reports allege that summonses had been issued to Mr. Marshall. To date, Mr. Marshall and his respective counsel in Indonesia have no knowledge of these summonses, nor have they been provided with any details whatsoever of the arrest warrant that has purportedly been issued against Mr. Marshall other than what has been reported in the media. Moreover none of the Indonesian authorities referred to in the press have approached Astro or Mr Marshall to assist in any investigation.
Astro refers to recent media reports regarding allegations raised against Astro and its Executive Deputy Chairman, Mr. Ralph Marshall. Astro categorically denies any wrong-doing on its part and on the part of Mr. Marshall, and will take all steps necessary to challenge these defamatory allegations against Mr Marshall, including seeking relief available in international law. Astro remains confident that these allegations will be proved to be unsubstantiated and without basis, as had been on previous occasions.