Ponzi Ada Di Sekitar Kita

Pada forum diskusi Kenduri Cinta di Taman Ismail Marzuki di jumat kedua bulan februari lalu, riba menjadi salah satu bahasan yang dikemukakan. Riba, yang sejauh ini disempitkan definisinya hanya untuk wilayah ekonomi bahkan lebih praktis lagi yaitu perbankan, memang sudah tidak lagi menjadi pemaknaan yang relevan bagi kehidupan keseharian kita.

Charles Ponzi

Anda tahu Charles Ponzi? Anda tahu Bernie Madoff? Tulisan saya sebelumnya –Krisis Menuju Depresi– menceritakan sedikit tentang dua orang ini. Masing-masing pada jamannya telah menghenyak wacana ekonomi di Amerika, tentang perilaku spekulatif pada pola ekonomi. Dan keduanya memakan korban dengan sangat massif dan terpola.

Charles Ponzi adalah cikal bakal pola ekonomi Multi Level Marketing, yang pada tingkat tertentu kemudian disalahgunakan. Skema Ponzi merupakan satu bentuk penipuan yang pada awalnya memang tidak direncanakan seperti itu. Mungkin anda ingat kasus PT. QSAR, G Cosmos, Voucher Key, dll. Kasus semacam itulah yang dilakukan dengan pola seperti Charles Ponzi. Dengan modal investasi awal yang kecil, kemudian menjadi besar, sehingga klien menceritakan pada relasi, saudaranya mengenai kesuksesannya di tempat tersebut. Dan memang itu yang diharapkan, pada fase awal investasi, bunga dan keuntungan yang berlipat hampir pasti diperoleh, investor lama akan mendapatkan ‘komisi’ ketika berhasil merekrut investor baru. Pola piramida seperti ini, memang menguntungkan pihak yang ada di atas namun membuat orang yang ada di level bawah gigit jari ketika perusahaanya bangkrut. Pada banyak kasus terjadi kebangkrutan karena investasi yang masuk tidak berimbang dengan ekspansi usaha yang dilakukan, akhirnya terjadilah permainan aliran uang (money game). Pada titik kulminasi maka rubuhlah piramida yang dibangun bertahun-tahun, pada beberapa kasus bahkan kerubuhannya terjadi ketika pola yang dibangun sudah puluhan tahun.
Menarik jika kita membaca wawancara yang dilakukan oleh Charles Ponzi dengan Star Tribune pada tahun 1920, sangat terlihat bahwa ia tidak memahami, kenapa ia diputuskan bersalah oleh hukum. Ia merasa semua yang dilakukan bisnisnya sah dan legal. -Sebagai catatan, kasus serupa yang terjadi pada Madoff (2008), tidak dianggap sebagai kriminalitas, hanya pelanggaran etika bisnis-

Dan berikut di bawah ini wawancara Charles Ponzi dengan koran StarTribune pada 30 Juli 1920 di Boston.

Boston, July 30. – Charles Ponzi, the man who ran a shoe string into $15,000,000, whose amazing financial juggling has brought him to the attention of federal investigators, whose life’s history includes a career as a waiter in a cheap Italian restaurant, has consented to tell how he became a figure of world interest almost overnight.

“I want it understood from the start,” he said tonight, in beginning his story, “that I have done nothing criminal.”

Charles Ponzi: His numbers just didn’t add up.

“For the time being I have ceased operations. Whether I shall continue remains to be seen. There is no law forbidding my continuing. The United States government may make a ruling that will hurt my business, but if I cannot go on as I am I shall go on as an ordinary banker and broker. At the outside I owe $3,000,000. I could meet three times that amount this minute. But let me explain.

“The idea, which is referred to as the ‘great idea’ and which really is not great, came to me last August. It came because I was thoroughly awake and on the lookout for the main chance. Are not you also doing just that? I had a scheme to start an export publication, a pamphlet, or periodical, dealing with the most ordinary export and import trade. I wrote to a man in Madrid, asking him certain things that I had to know about exports, and in reply I received an international coupon, which I was to exchange here in the United States for United States postage stamps and for these stamps I was to mail to the man in Madrid a copy of my magazine.

“Perhaps you do not know about these coupons. They are simply international postal reply coupons. One buys them for 6 cents in one’s own country and sends them to a correspondent in another country. You do this if you desire to render the courtesy of prepaying the postage of the letter or correspondence you hope to receive. They are redeemable in stamps at 5 cents each. The sixth cent goes to the government for the expense of getting them out.

Yields 400 Per Cent Profit.

“Well, that coupon I received from Spain cost in Spain the equivalent of 1 cent here in America. The rate of currency exchange differs, you know, in these times. Do you see? I took that coupon to the United States post office and there I received the value of 5 cents for it.

“That meant the stamp had yielded a 400 percent profit.

“I said to myself that I might buy hundreds, thousands, millions of these stamps in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and all the new countries in south and southeastern Europe. Then I planned further. I investigate and studied foreign exchange.

“I bought a small amount of the stamps abroad. I made a neat turnover. I had little money of my own and I figured it was best to make money in this way while the possibility was here. So I went out among the few men I knew and begged them to let me have their wages, their earnings and what they could obtain in loans. I worked hard. It was hard work. It almost drove me mad. Here I had an opportunity to make a legitimate fortune and I was going to fail because there would not be time and I would have to do it like a piker unless some one helped me. I worked all day and all night. Men laughed at me. They warned me I’d go to jail. I knew I was right and kept looking for a man who would take a chance or let me take a chance with his money. I had none of my own.

“I took one room. I found a man who said he’d put money in my scheme if I’d prove its worth. I had a couple of thousand dollars and I decided to let it go into advertising and office rent. I shot the roll, as they say, and the roll came home. I really got under way in December.

“I got a few investors, many of them my own countrymen. To each of them I issued a promissory note, as I do now, saying they could collect in 90 days. Why I pay in 45 days I shall explain presently.

“Within a month the few thousand dollars increased to fifteen thousand. Persons who had received 40 to 50 per cent on their money in two months naturally told their friends. And their friends came and brought more funds and these friends brought more friends, ad infinitum.

“Investigation of my business affairs impended. Naturally the news became general. I did not wait for the authorities to come to me. I went to them and invited them to investigate. For instance, they sent two police officers down to look me over. Each invested a few dollars and each made 50 per cent on his investment in forty-five days. They let their earnings ride and they are due for another harvest.

He Keeps 350 Per Cent.

“I made millions of dollars. It was simple. Suppose you came to me and gave me $1,000 to invest. I purchased international postal coupons in Spain, we’ll say. For one American cent, for that value of that cent, I purchased a coupon that is redeemable for 5 cents here. That makes 400 per cent profit. I pay you 50 per cent profit and there you are. I make 350 per cent on your money.

(Here it must be explained, however, that on July 7 the authorities at Washington, hearing that some such transactions were going on, passed a rule that no one person could redeem more than ten such coupons – 50 cents worth. Any excess offered at any post office had to be referred to Washington for approval. Moreover, Washington let it be known that they were noticing no great speculation in these international postal coupons and that the total redeemed did not exceed more than about $5 worth a day. Ponzi was reminded of this.)

“There you will ask me for me secret. Well, I shall not tell. That is my business. How I get them, how I dispose of them and such things are my business. It is enough to assure you that there is nothing illegal.

“As I said, I had made millions. I purchased the controlling interest in a large trust company. I opened offices in Portland, Manchester, Portsmouth, Burlington, Lawrence, Lowell, Fitchburg, Brockton, Plymouth, Fall River, Taunton, Framingham, Milford, Providence, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Hartford, Meriden, New Haven, Bridgeport and down in New Jersey in Bayonne and Clifton. Soon I should have opened a great office in Lower Broadway, New York.

$500,000 a Day Handled.

“The peak of my business was reached in May, just two months ago. When I decided to suspend for the time being, while the authorities satisfy themselves that there is nothing illegal about it, I was taking in about $250,000 a day in my Boston office and about the same amount through the branch offices. That made $500,000 a day, and there is not one man who can say that I did not keep my word or who can say that every dollar he invested with me is not his for the asking, provided he does not want to wait the 45 days.

“Merely, I happened to discover something before any one else did. It might have been you. It might have been my neighbor. It might have been a great banker. But it wasn’t. It was Ponzi.

“I think I should have cleaned up $3,500,000 this week had I not suspended. I think the United States is butting in upon a perfectly legitimate proposition. I know it is legitimate. Why should it concern the government what my secret is so long as I have twice as much money in reserve as is needed to meet all possible claims upon me?

“I can tell you this much. I am not redeeming these international reply coupons in this country. I have never said that I am doing so, and I never shall say so. And I am perfectly well aware that France, Italy and Roumania have issued orders to suspend payments, but that does not stop me from doing business in those countries.

“If the government prohibits speculation in these coupons I shall go on making money. Let the government find out how I cash the coupons. I am not called on to tell. I repeat, I made a great discovery and then found out how to work it.

Atau klik disini.

Perilaku spekulatif tidak serta merta dilarang/diharamkan, namun dengan menangguk keuntungan diatas perilaku spekulatif masyarakatlah yang kemudian melahirkan sistem riba. Riba dilarang dalam kitab suci, hampir pada setiap tradisi agama-agama besar di dunia. Perilaku riba tidak hanya berkisar di seputar uang dan turunannya, pun tidak mutlak sama dengan bunga dalam definisi perbankan. Riba merupakan sesuatu kelebihan yang kita dapatkan, yang memang bukan bagian dari hak kita. Korupsi adalah riba. Mencuri itu riba. Naik haji tidak dengan niat karena Tuhan semata adalah juga riba. Maka sebenarnya,perilaku riba lekat akrab dalam diri kita.

Riba Yurisprundensi

Tidak hanya masyarakat yang seharusnya belajar mengani pola ini, namun juga media dan pemerintah selaku regulator perekonomian. Pada kasus G Cosmos beberapa tahun lalu, koran Kompas turut mengiklankan pada awal-awal berdirinya, meski setelah dua tahun ada artikel yang menampilkan penipuan senilai 50 Milyar yang dilakukan pihak G Cosmos. Dalam banyak hal, jurnalis pun tidak mempunyai kemampuan untuk menganalisa lebih dalam mengenai hal semacam ini. Anda bisa lihat wacana mengenai media dan bisnis MLM di sini. Juga artikel di sini.

Sangat menarik bagaimana kali pertama pola ‘multi level marketing’ diperkenalkan. Charles Ponzi ditangkap pada tahun 1920 dengan tuntutan pidana penipuan. Ia sendiri tidak dengan sengaja sadar bahwa kasusnya akan dikenang sebagai salah satu yurisprundensi dalam sistem ekonomi dunia. Sejak saat itu, setiap kasus dengan pola yang serupa, diberi label Ponzi Scheme, seperti yang terjadi pada kasus Madoff akhir tahun 2008 lalu. Anda bisa klik kata Ponzi Scheme di mesin google, maka tampak ratusan forum-web-blog yang membahas kasus ini bahkan setelah hampir satu abad setelahnya.

Istilah yurisprundensi ekonomi adalah istilah penulis sendiri, dengan maksud bahwa seharusnya negara kita belajar menggolongkan suatu kasus yang pernah terjadi sebelumnya dalam suatu istilah resmi tertentu, khususnya dalam hal etika. Karena banyak kasus yang secara berulang-ulang terjadi tanpa kita belajar dari kasus tersebut. Kasus PT.QSAR dsb hanya kita sebut penipuan, mlm, investasi fiktif, dsb. Perlu ada semacam keyword/kata kunci dalam mengingat suatu kasus yang dianggap laten.

Umum terjadi di banyak negara, pun amerika, kanada, inggris melakukan hal semacam itu. Jika kita telusuri akan sangat banyak istilah-istilah yurisprundensi yang kadang terdengar lucu. Anda tahu mengapa dalam setiap adegan penangkapan oleh polisi di film amerika, selalu dimulai dengan perkataan polisi “anda berhak untuk diam …”, dan itu selalu ada pada setiap skenario film. Kalimat polisi tersebut memang faktual adanya, disebut miranda rules/miranda warning. Yaitu suatu kalimat-kalimat berisi hak-hak warga negara yang harus diperdengarkan kepada tersangka sebelum ia ditangkap.

Kalimatnya sebagai berikut,

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

ada perbedaan satu dua kalimat pada setiap negara bagian.

Wajibkah polisi memperdengarkan kalimat tersebut? Tidak, sampai tahun 1966 setelah kasusErnesto Arturo Miranda, seorang penculik dan pemerkosa anak dibawah umur, yang hampir tidak dapat dihukum di pengadilan walau ia terbukti bersalah, karena ketika ia ditangkap, ia tidak diperdengarkan hak-haknya. Suatu pelajaran berharga bagi hukum setempat kemudian diterima masyarakat dan disebarkan oleh media hollywood.

Dalam sistem hukum positif di Indonesia, yurisprundensi adalah salah satu sumber hukum sebagai acuan bagi para Hakim untuk memutus suatu perkara yang sama sehingga menjadi sumber hukum yang memiliki kekuatan mengikat secara relatif.

Namun dalam banyak kasus hukum, yurisprudensi tidak dijadikan sebagai landasan hukum para hakim. Hakim dan aparat negara pun dengan latar konstelasi politiknya telah banyak melakukan riba-riba berkelanjutan.

“Apa yang kamu berikan dalam bentuk riba agar harta manusia bertambah, maka hal itu tidak bertambah di sisi Allah” (QS.ar-Rum : 39).

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