Sat, 08 Oct 1994

Bapindo target of another scandal probe

JAKARTA (JP): The state-owned Bank Pembangunan Indonesia (Bapindo), barely over the Rp 1.3 trillion loan scandal involving businessman Eddy Tansil, is now the target of another government investigation.

The Attorney General's office has interrogated a number of former and current Bapindo directors and staff in the past week, this time in connection with a loan the bank gave to textile businessman Kim Johannes Mulia.

Kim, the owner of PT Detta Marina, is under investigation in connection with allegations of forging documents in order obtain export credits from Bapindo. The government investigators are looking into the possibility that he had inside help.

According to preliminary investigations, Kim forged documents stating that his company shipped garments to Singapore. Kim then obtained loans from Bapindo with the bogus documents.

The government has slapped an overseas travel ban on Kim, who also operates his business from Singapore, until the investigation is completed.

"In connection with the fictitious export documents scandal, the Attorney General's Office has questioned several Bapindo executives, including its former directors," Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes A. Soetomo told reporters on Thursday.

Soetomo declined to mention who had been questioned in the investigation, but stressed that they were former directors who are now on trial in connection with the earlier scandal.

Alleged role

Four former Bapindo directors are on trial for their alleged role in allowing Tansil to siphon off $480 million from the state bank. They are Towil Heryoto, Subekti Ismaun, Sjahrizal and Bambang Kuntjoro.

Because they are suspects, they are being detained at the Attorney General's headquarters in South Jakarta, which makes it easy to interrogate them.

Soetomo did not deny the possibility that the current and former directors could become suspects, pending the outcome of the investigation. "We'll have to wait before we can determine their status," Soetomo said.

Attorney General Singgih said earlier that the investigators had determined that Kim had committed a crime but have not yet ascertained the extent of state losses. Once this is discovered, the government will press formal charges against the businessman.

There were a total of 12 forged documents certifying shipments of garments from Tanjung Priok in Jakarta to Singapore, according to Singgih. Kim obtained loans from Bapindo last April to finance the exports with these documents.

Kim, who has not been available to comment on the allegations, has been cooperating with investigators and has paid back Rp 16 billion ($7.3 million) of the loans he obtained from Bapindo, according to officials at the Attorney General's office.

Kim's made headlines last month when he, along with businessman Johannes Kotjo, were rumored to be potential buyers of the troubled Kanindo textile enterprise belonging to controversial businessman Robby Tjahjadi.

Kim and Johannes withdrew from the deal when the government ruled that the association of batik manufacturing cooperatives should take over the management of Kanindo.

It was in the middle of this takeover deal that the allegations of fraud by Kim's company surfaced.(imn)