Indonesia’s flagship airline has fired its CEO over allegations he smuggled a Harley-Davidson motorbike into the country onboard one of the airline’s new Airbus planes in an attempt to avoid paying customs taxes.
Ari Askhara, of Garuda Indonesia, is accused by Indonesian authorities of sneaking a classic motorbike and two Brompton foldable bikes into the country, the country’s state-run Antara news agency reported, citing the transportation ministry.
The plane — a new Airbus A330-900 — had flown from Toulouse, France, to Jakarta on November 16, Antara reported. The jet had not been flying a commercial flight, and had only been flying 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.
Askhara was fired on 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 between 200 million and 800 million Indonesian rupiah ($14,200 to $57,000), and one foldable Brompton bike is worth 50 million to 60 million rupiah ($3,500 to $4,250) in the Indonesian market, Antara reported.
Askhara is accused of avoiding up to 1.5 billion rupiah ($106,000) in customs duties, Antara added.
Askhara has not publicly responded to the allegations against him.
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 that he would improve the airline’s finances, CNN Indonesia reported. Garuda had recorded net losses for years, CNN Indonesia added.