Indonesia’s flagship airline fired its CEO over claims he smuggled a Harley-Davidson motorbike into the country on one of its planes

A reassembled Harley-Davidson motorbike, which Garuda CEO Ari Askhara is accused of smuggling into the country aboard a plane, on display at an Indonesian Finance Ministry news conference in Jakarta on Thursday.

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A reassembled Harley-Davidson motorbike, which Garuda CEO Ari Askhara is accused of smuggling into the country aboard a plane, on display at an Indonesian Finance Ministry news conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
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Kompas TV/YouTube
  • The CEO of Garuda Indonesia, the national airline of Indonesia, has been accused of smuggling a Harley-Davidson motorbike and two Brompton foldable bikes from France to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, last month.
  • Ari Askhara is accused of sneaking the bikes into the country via a noncommercial Airbus A330-900 plane, the state-run Antara news agency reported, citing Indonesian authorities.
  • The bikes are worth up to $65,500 combined in the Indonesian market. Askhara is accused of evading up to $106,000 in taxes, Antara reported.
  • Customs officials reported finding the disassembled Harley-Davidson motorbike and Brompton bikes on Tuesday, Antara reported.
  • Askhara was fired Thursday. The Indonesian government is also fining Garuda for not disclosing the bikes on its cargo manifest.
  • Askhara has not publicly responded to the allegations, and Garuda did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Indonesia’s flagship airline has fired its CEO over allegations he smuggled a Harley-Davidson motorbike into the country aboard one of the airline’s new Airbus planes in an attempt to avoid paying customs taxes.

Ari Askhara, of the airline Garuda Indonesia, is accused by Indonesian authorities of sneaking a classic motorbike and two Brompton foldable bikes into the country, the state-run Antara news agency reported, citing the transportation ministry.

The plane – a new Airbus A330-900 – had flown from Toulouse, France, to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on November 16, Antara reported. The jet had not been flying a commercial flight and was carrying only Garuda executives and employees at the time, the news agency added.

Customs officials reported finding the disassembled Harley-Davidson motorbike and Brompton bikes on Tuesday, Antara reported.

The Harley-Davidson motorbike and Brompton bicycles on display at the Indonesian press conference.

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The Harley-Davidson motorbike and Brompton bicycles on display at the Indonesian press conference.
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Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak A via Reuters

Askhara was fired Thursday, Reuters reported. Though it’s not clear when he will officially leave the post, Indonesia’s transportation minister has appointed Garuda CFO Fuad Rizal to act as interim CEO, local media outlets reported.

The Harley-Davidson motorbike costs 200 million to 800 million Indonesian rupiah, or $14,200 to $57,000, and one foldable Brompton bike is worth 50 million to 60 million rupiah, or $3,500 to $4,250, in the Indonesian market, Antara reported.

Askhara is accused of avoiding up to 1.5 billion rupiah, or $106,000, in customs duties, Antara added.

Askhara has not publicly responded to the allegations against him.

Askhara being followed by Indonesian journalists.

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Askhara being followed by Indonesian journalists.
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Kompas TV/YouTube

The Indonesian government is also fining Garuda an undisclosed amount over the allegations because the airline had “carried items without including them in the cargo list,” Indonesian Transportation Minister Budi Karya said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Garuda has not responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on the allegations and government fine.

The news comes as Garuda’s finances face increased scrutiny by the Indonesian government. Last year, Indonesia’s financial watchdog said that the airline had made accounting errors, the BBC reported.

The Indonesian government appointed Askhara as Garuda CEO in 2018, hoping he would improve the airline’s finances, CNN Indonesia reported. Garuda had recorded net losses for years, CNN Indonesia added.