Part 36. Pauwsan Sutanto’s Thieving Niece, Niah

In this part we investigate the tangan panjang of Niah, Pauwsan Sutanto’s own niece. This light-fingered lass was stealing student payments to pay for her mortgage.

How many Office Supervisors has TBI Kelapa Gading had?

To my knowledge, it has had four since 2006.

Were any of them trustworthy and upstanding types?

One of them was pleasant and honest. Her predecessors- Niah and Nissa- both embezzled vast amounts of money exceeding several years’ worth of their respective salaries. Both of them at their height were embezzling between 10 and 20% of total revenue. The most recent appointment, Firlana, is extremely dishonest and lazy but is used by the owners to bribe government officials. So he has his uses.

Did you know Niah personally?

I tried to avoid her. She had a reputation for asking to borrow money from teachers, which really put me off. But I knew her. She was the Office Supervisor when I started at TBI Kelapa Gading. She was also handling the money. She was the Finance officer as well.

Was she an accountant by training?

Thankfully I was never her supervisor. I don’t know anything about her except for her reputation from robbing from teachers and even her own family, The Sutantos. She did, however, handle all the payments and salaries. I recall that.

What had you heard about her from the teachers?

She had been at the centre of a massive fight in 2007 involving R****, an expat teacher and his advance for an apartment. He ended up leaving over a dispute with Niah. He swore that he had handed her the Rp 4.000.000 final installment on the advance for his apartment, but Niah just as firmly swore that he hadn’t. The fight between the two of them had become pretty intense. The school manager, BF, had waded into the battle and as usual made things worse. He had sided with Niah over R***** and he had left the school in disgust, cursing the pair of them. BF certainly knew that Niah was Pauwsan Sutanto’s niece and may have been playing politics. He might have sided with Niah just because he knew where his own bread was buttered.

Did you know R*****?

No, this was before my time, but one teacher M*** was there from the time of the conflict and had spoken of it. Niah was always trying to hit M*** up for loans and he felt uncomfortable refusing her all the time.

When did Niah finally come unstuck?

It was a few months after I started. I suppose it was around the end of 2008 or early 2009.

How was she caught stealing?

Pauwsan Sutanto had received a tip-off that Niah was stealing by Nissa. He had investigated and the extent of her theft was said to be on a massive scale. I never heard the exact figure but I was told by Pauwsan Sutanto that it was much larger than the Rp 150.000.000 that Nissa herself would go on to steal. It was probably twice as high or more. When you consider her official salary, it was clearly Niah had stolen at least 5 years’ salary during her time with TBI. And I was told they got almost none of it back.

What was she doing with the money?

She had bought a fancy car which her husband was driving around and there were rumors of debt collectors making calls to the school. There had been signs. Anyway, she came into the school one day with her female relatives and a couple of old aunts or grannies were wailing. The whole thing was very strange, even by TBI standards.

Who was appointed Office Supervisor after Niah’s fall from grace?


The one who had tipped off Pauwsan about Niah?

None other.

And would you remind our readers how and when Niah herself was fired?

That was about a year later after she herself was caught embezzling the student payments.

Was R***** ever compensated for the money Niah had stolen?

This is TBI. Of course he wasn’t.

And can you please tell our readers about Niah’s last bizarre dash for cash?

She finished officially on a Friday but then turned up on Saturday morning with a truck. She told the office assistant that Pauwsan had given the OK for her to take some of her ‘personal possessions’. She’d had several mirrors and the fax machine loaded into the truck before the office assistant called Pauwsan to check if it was OK. And of course it wasn’t. It was one final attempt to steal from TBI!

Was she crazy?

I have no idea why she acted in such a strange manner. The popular explanation was that she had got used to the money and had run by debts everywhere. She was desperate for money at the end. I have no idea. But if anyone tells you that TBI franchise schools are any good, they have probably never been inside one. As far as I can see, they are nothing more than an overpriced name hanging over a door.

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