Back in April we brought you news about an Indonesian man who was beaten to death — in Indonesia, mind you — over $12,000 in credit card debt with Citibank. What gave the story its lurid turn was the fact that the man was beaten in Citi’s Jakarta offices, and, allegedly, by the branch’s own debt collection department. He died on the way to the hospital.
The attorney for the debt collector tells a different story, of course. Yes, intimidation was used, the attorney says. But it was not physical intimidation. The debtor, the attorney alleges, died of a stroke. Like, the brain kind, not several strokes with a fist or whip or axe or something.
Unlike the United States, which has laws in place that protect both the debtor and the collector (we can argue about your disagreement with the latter later), Indonesia is a little like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (much like most of Roman Polanski’s life has been a little like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown): intimidation is a common practice and that one lady’s probably your sister.
According to this piece on The Huffington Post, “Physical methods of debt collecting are not uncommon in nations where firms consider local courts to be unreliable or corrupt.” And once you’ve worked out that reasoning, you’re totally in the Matrix and while that one lady is probably still your sister, she’s also a hologram and a robot. And a spoon.
The widow of the dead guy is now suing Citibank for $348 million. This is on top of (and separate from) Citi’s Indonesian employees embezzling $1.9 million. As the Jakarta Globe reports, “The Bank of Indonesia has mandated that the branch’s top executives take a test regarding proper business and banking practices.”
The only tiny bit of good news out of this whole story is this: Citi has cleared Octa of all debts he may have owed.