Thu, 18 Dec 2003

Access given to BRI accounts

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Four Bank BCA branch managers have given prosecutors access to all accounts to which the money stolen from state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) was allegedly channeled, only after the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office threatened to name them suspects if they refused to cooperate.

"After our warning, the heads of BCA branches in Kuningan, GKBI building, Matraman and Pasar Baru have allowed us to check all the accounts related to the scandal today," Marwan Effendi, the assistant to the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office chief for special crimes, said.

He said the prosecutor's office put heavy pressure on the branch managers after securing approval from Bank Indonesia (BI). The request for access to the accounts was made on Monday, but there was no response until the prosecutors threatened to ensnare them in the bank fraud, which caused Rp 294 billion (US$34.5 million) in losses.

"We will start examining the accounts tomorrow (Thursday) because the branch heads notified us about the access only this afternoon. We hope more names and funds can be revealed," said Marwan.

The loan scandal was allegedly orchestrated by several BRI officials and two businessmen in three BRI branches.

The Jakarta Prosecutor's Office has named three BRI officials and two businessmen as suspects and is currently holding them in detention. The three BRI officials are Central Jakarta's BRI Senen branch head Deden Gumilar, Bogor's Surya Kencana sub-branch head Asep Tarwan and Central Jakarta's sub-head Agus Riyanto. The two businessmen are the owner of PT Delta Makmur Experindo Yudi Kartolo and his director Hartono.

Investigators have questioned over 20 witnesses and frozen 29 accounts into which the money was allegedly siphoned. The combined balance of the accounts amounts to Rp 100 million.

"We have examined nine of the 29 accounts in North Jakarta's BCA Pluit branch, Central Jakarta's BRI Senen branch, Bogor's Surya Kencana's branch and South Jakarta's BCA Kemang branch. We have withhold Rp 60 billion of the funds in a secure account at the Senen branch," said Marwan.

The nine accounts bear the names of Henry Gozali, Dony Maulana, Yohannes Eka Negara and Yudi Kartolo himself.

"These could be new suspects or just other names used by Yudi and Hartono," said Marwan.

He added that two witnesses had handed over Rp 1 billion voluntarily to the prosecutors.

Marwan said his office had completed the questioning of the detainees as witnesses and he was preparing the dossiers. They will face more questioning as suspects soon.

The investigators have also planned to question two experts in banking transactions from BRI and BI.

"We will question them on Friday because we must become familiar with all the BRI and BI regulations regarding this kind of transaction," said Marwan.

Meanwhile, National Police interrogated one more suspect related to the Rp 1.7 trillion Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) scandal.

"We are questioning the former BNI head of Region 10 Heru Sarjono as a witness to clarify the role of BNI officials in the region," said National Police deputy spokesman Brig. Gen. Soenarko.

Heru is the younger brother of Edi Santoso, another suspect in the case.