A former chief executive of Garuda Indonesia (GA, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) was sentenced to eight years imprisonment plus a IDR1 billion rupiah (USD61,200) fine last week following a corruption trial in Jakarta. Emirsyah Satar, Garuda's CEO between 2005 and 2014, heard the bad news at the city's Central District Court on June 27. He was also ordered to pay restitution of USD86.4 million or serve an additional four years.

The Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) charged Satar and several other now ex-Garuda officials with causing financial losses to the state. Specifically, they said he handed over a confidential aircraft procurement plan to Soetikno Soedarjo, a commercial advisor who represented the interests of ATR - Avions de Transport Régional and Bombardier Aerospace. Soedarjo, who received a six-year custodial sentence last week, passed the plan onto Bombardier.

Emirsyah also unilaterally altered the seating capacity in the procurement plan from 70 to 90 seats without running it past the board. State-owned Garuda ended up buying ATR72-600s (operated by subsidiary Citilink) and CRJ1000ERs, neither of which were right-sized aircraft for the airline's needs. Garuda went on to sustain losses of USD609 million operating the planes.

This was Satar's second run-in with the Indonesian courts over his aircraft acquisition practices. In 2020, in a case also brought by the KPK and also involving Soedarjo, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment for corruption and money laundering. In this earlier matter, it was found that he had received bribes from Soejarno in his then capacity as the managing director of conglomerate Mugi Rekso Abadi, in return for Garuda procurement contracts. Satar was also found to have received kickbacks from Rolls-Royce and Airbus during the procurement process. During pre-trial proceedings in the latest trial, Satar's counsel argued that the matters were connected and the offending behaviour had been dealt with during the first trial. That argument ultimately proved unsuccessful.