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THE CASE OF PETER JAMES BUTLER
FEATURES & CONSEQUENCES
Corruption, Conspiracy, Death Threats, 'Highly Illegal Acts' According to the Supreme Court, Law Firm's Australian Founder Complicit in those Acts, Lower Courts Ignore Evidence of Payments to Defendants, Police take no Action against Fraud, Judge Fraternises with and Borrows Money from Lawyer in a Case over which he Presides,
Peter James Butler is persuaded by Peter Dickinson, the head of a Western Australia security firm in Malaga called Protection 1, to take a 1/3rd stake in P.T. Soka Beach Management Company, which is established to manage the Taksu resort at Suraberatha, West Bali. However, when very little happens despite the haemorrhaging of money, Peter Butler becomes concerned, whereupon his name is simply erased from the company records by Peter Johnson, a former Perth lawyer and the senior partner in Austrindo Law Office, Kuta Beach, Bali. Since the Bali police fail to take any action, Peter Butler commences civil suits and becomes aware of threats to his safety.
2001. Peter Butler (British citizen) a professional football coach, who played for West Ham United, London and in Perth, Australia and (until recently) coached the Terengganu Football Team in Malaysia (having coached BEC-Tero in Thailand, Yangon FC in Burma, for the Singapore Armed Forces, as well as teams in Indonesia), helps set up a football academy in Perth while he is player-manager of Sorrento F.C. He meets Peter Dickinson, who persuades him to make a 33.3% investment in a company he plans to set up and to be called P.T. Soka Beach Management Company, in order to manage a resort called Taksu at Suraberatha, West Bali.
2004 - P.T. Soka Beach Management Company is formed at the offices of Peter Johnson’s law firm Austrindo.
End of 2004 - Peter Butler and Peter Dickinson agree to purchase two parcels of land located in the Soka Beach Village, Suraberatha District of West Selemadeg, Tabanan, Bali. Peter Butler pays AU$100,000 to Peter Dickinson's then wife Kate Shanahan Dickinson, to also cover the cost of the building, the installation of electricity and water, lawyers charges and architects fees.
9th December, 2005 - Foreign Investment Approval is issued by the Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (No. 1369/I/PMA/2005).
22nd December, 2005 - Dickinson and Hanna claim P.T. Soka Beach Management Company was formed on this day before I Made Dwita, a notary in the Gianyar regency and that Peter Butler was not a shareholder.
13th January, 2006 the land is purchased in the name of a nominee, namely Ni Nyoman Ayutrisnawati. There are four plots measuring in area: 750m2, 4,100m2, 1,480m2 and 2,900m2. Unknown to Peter Butler, Dickinson and Hanna have already sold 13 villas at AU$100,000 each, which were paid for in advance, in expectation that they would be completed in June, 2007. The profit from the construction of these villas is AU$74,000 x 13 = AU$962,000; but Dickinson and Hanna do not share the profit with Butler (his share would have been AU$318,422).
Peter Butler was, in any case, concerned when the plans for the resort kept changing, that very little was to be seen for the money being spent and what there was was of poor quality. In response, instead of buying Butler out as promised, Peter Johnson transfers Butler's shareholding into the name of his Indonesian wife Ary.
18th December, 2006 - Peter Butler files a complaint against Dickinson and Hanna to the Bali police; but they take no action. He is threatened and sends his family to Malaysia for their safety.
2007 - Since the Bali police will not act, Peter Butler sues five defendants: Peter David Dickinson, Dickinson's now-estranged wife Kate Shanahan Dickinson, Paul Richard Hanna (an investor in engineering projects in gold fields from Perth and once an influential figure in the America’s Cup in Freemantle), Peter Johnson and an Indonesian nominee, Ni Nyoman Ayu Trisnawati. All the defendants give their resident address as Astrindo Law Office, Jalan Setiabudi, Kompleks Kuta Poleng Blok D 2, Kuta-Bali.
30th October, 2007 - Tabanan District Court, having violated the rules of evidence, deliver judgement in favour of Dickinson, Hanna and the other defendants.
1st April, 2008 - Oddly, the bank-transaction evidence of Butler’s payments to his partners is completely ignored and the Denpasar Appeal Court upholds the judgement of Tabanan District Court.
16th June, 2008 - Peter Butler lodges an appeal with the Supreme Court.
11th March, 2010 - stating that Tabanan District Court and the Denpasar Appeal Court had violated the law relating to evidence, the Indonesian Supreme Court quashes the judgement of Denpasar Court of Appeal dated 1st April, 2008. Peter Dickinson and Paul Hanna are ordered to pay AUS$423,623, by a judge at the Supreme Court in Jakarta, who said they were guilty of ‘highly illegal acts’. The Court also ruled that Peter Johnson was not merely a business consultant, as he had claimed, but that he had assisted Dickinson and Hanna in carrying out their acts.
Thus, 1. Peter Butler's claim is granted in full; 2. The sequestration is declared legally valid and valuable; 3. The actions of the Defendants are declared unlawful and very adverse to Peter Butler; 4. Peter Butler is confirmed as a 33.1% shareholder and as holder of rights to the land and villas; 5. Peter Butler's investment of AU$100,000 for the purchase of land and construction of the villas by Dickinson and Hanna is legally validated.
July, 2012 - Dickinson and Hanna fail to turn up at the Denpasar Distict Court to explain how they intend to settle the judgement. The case is adjourned until 2nd August.
At least five of the villas which were bought in advance of construction at the Tuksa resort have not been built; in fact, the 'builders' have left. It seems that some 13 individuals intend to take legal action against Dickinson and Hanna in connection with Tuksa. Millions of dollars have been lost in Bali by foreign investors in property deals that have gone awry.
4th December, 2013 - Supreme Court decision announced in open court: (i) the Deed of Establishment of P.T. Soka Beach Management does not record Peter Butler as a shareholder, (ii) while money was transferred, there is no evidence to show that it was for the purchase of shares, and (iii) there is no evidence to support the claim that the plaintiff has an entitlement under Freehold Land Certificate No. 4239. Thus, the Judicial Review finds in favour of Peter Dickinson, Paul Hanna and Peter Johnson, and the decision of the Supreme Court of l1th March, 2010 (see above) is overturned.
AUSTRINDO LAW OFFICE
Austrindo Law Office is described as an Australian law firm that employs Indonesian lawyers in practising criminal law, civil litigation, family law (especially on mixed marriage issues), land acquisition and due diligence preparations of security documentation for land acquisition. Austrindo - the so-called 'biggest and most reputable legal office in Bali' - has attracted a great deal of the Australian and foreign (including Japanese) visitor/expatriate/investor market and arranges Indonesian nominees (often Johnson's own Indonesian wife) for foreigners making land purchases in a country where non-Indonesians cannot own land. Austrindo is on the Australian Consulate's list of recommended lawyers in Bali; but it does not feature on the lists of the British, United States or Canadian legations.
Indonesian national Putu Marsh (formerly Eka), now of Brae Side, Victoria, claims she held 10% of the equity in Austrindo when Peter Johnson started the law firm and that she opened the office for him, while Peter Johnson brought in foreign customers. Putu Marsh claims Peter Johnson would readily bribe judges, police and government officials where he deemed it necessary, and that he removed Peter Butler’s name from the Soka company records. Putu Marsh alleges that Austrindo would sometimes represent both sides in a case without the knowledge of the foreign party (| see Michael Donnelly's case on this site) and that it is the problems of foreigners that reap the most income for the firm, especially if they are engineered or exacerbated by whomsoever. Putu Marsh also alleges Peter Johnson took out Indonesian citizenship because of tax problems in Australia.
Peter Johnson, - writing to OpenTrial on 13th January, 2015, from Vidhi Law Office, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai 2001, Simpang Dewa Ruci, Kuta 80361, Bali - denies this, pointing out that: (1) Putu Marsh did not hold 10% of the shares in Austrindo, but in a company Johnson used for visa work; (2) Putu Marsh did not open Austrindo for him, but was later employed by the firm; (3) there is no evidence to support the allegation Johnson bribed judges, police and government officials; (4) Peter Butler was never a shareholder or office holder in PT. Soka Beach Management; (5) Austrindo did not sometimes represent both sides in a case as this would have been illegal and impractical; and (6) Johnson did not take out Indonesian citizenship because of tax problems in Australia, but still files tax returns every year in Australia.
21st November, 2007, - a contract for the purchase of a villa and land on Balangan Beach, South Kuta, is drawn up by Austrindo Law Office. Dmitry Chernikov pays a deposit of US$ 195,000 (10% of the total purchase price) to the Bank Permata Account of Agus Waworuntu, a business partner of two Britons, Christopher James Forbes and Angus Knowles Jackson. Chernikov never receives title to the land which, in any case, already had a legal charge on it.
December, 2010 - the two Britons, Christopher James Forbes and Angus Knowles Jackson, are each sentenced to one and a half years in jail for fraud. Peter Johnson claims Austrindo initiated the investigation into this fraud after discovering flaws in the title.
10th July, 2012 - Fraternising with a Disgraced Judge - Putu Suika, a Bali judge, is discharged from office by an ad-hoc Judges Honours Committee in Jakarta that comprises members of the Judicial Commission and the Supreme Court. Putu Suika was removed for violating the judges' code of conduct by having, three times during a trial, gone to the home of Austrindo's chief lawyer and shareholder, Muhammad Rifan, who represented the plaintiff in the trial, to sing karaoke. It appears that, as the presiding judge, Putu Suika showed partiality by ruling in favour of the plaintiff and did not consult the other judges on the panel. Putu Suika had also borrowed money from Muhammad Rifan.
In his previous position as deputy chief of Palangkaraya District Court, Putu Suika was accused of embezzling a car, before he was demoted to being a regular judge in Mataram District Court. When criminal tendencies in a presiding judge are exposed to the public he, it seems, will be moved to another location, where he may transgress again or also, as in Putu Suika's case, be made Chairman of the Judicial Review Panel looking at the ‘Bali 9’ cases!