Arrested Australian warns of Indonesian business perils

An Australian mining businessman facing the prospect of five years in an Indonesian prison has warned others of the perils of pursuing deals in the South-east Asian giant, saying he 'got caught like a spider in a web.'

63-year old Dennis Connell hailing from Wyong on Australia's Central Coast and a resident of Indonesia for the past 15 years faces charges of embezzlement, deception and theft in the wake of a complex and abortive business transaction.

According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald Connell is facing a possible prison sentence under Indonesian law for the authorized issuance of shares in Golden Arrow Resources, an offshore entity controlling the Masuparia gold concession in Kalimantan, which massively diluted the 25-share ownership stake of Indonesian businessman and former politician Burhanuddin Bur Maras.

The shares were transferred to Maras as part of a settlement reached in January 2011 following Maras' failure to pay the USD$2.475 million consideration for a 75% stake in Connell's mining services company nearly two years previously.

Connell alleges Maras bribed the Indonesian Attorney General's office with $350,000 to trump up the charges, as well as purchased a new Mercedes Benz for a detective involved with the case.

The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency released a report last week alleging that the Attorney-General's Office is the country's most corrupt institution.

Expat friends of Connell have rallied in support, with New Zealander and fellow member of the resources industry Greg Smith saying "the case is an orchestrated litany of lies and deceit. This is not a hearing of law, just one of vengeance."

The incident serves to further tarnish the appeal of Indonesia as a foreign investment destination, arriving hot on the heels of the dramatic ouster of Intrepid Mines by shadowy business interests from the Tujuh Bukit copper and gold project.