Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Bob Hasan detained over scandal

JAKARTA (JP): Timber tycoon Mohamad "Bob" Hasan was detained at the Attorney General's Office on Tuesday after formally being named a suspect in a US$87 million corruption scandal.

Chaerul Imam, the director of corruption affairs at the Attorney General's Office, said a warrant had been issued to detain Bob Hasan for 20 days for questioning in connection with a government contract to map out Indonesia's forestry resources.

Bob Hasan is a suspect in the government's investigation into the alleged embezzlement of the government's massive reforestation fund.

"We named Bob Hasan a suspect after questioning two others who revealed his role in the case," Chaerul told journalists in a hastily called news conference after questioning the tycoon.

After seven hours of questioning, Bob Hasan did not leave the Attorney General's Office compound on Jl. Sisingamangaraja. He was instead sent to a detention cell in the office complex.

The case relates to a contract the then forestry ministry awarded to Bob Hasan, who once chaired the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association (APHI), to perform aerial mapping and airborne radar imaging of the country's forestry resources in 1997.

The $87 million contract was carried out by PT Mapindo Parma and the money was paid out of the government's reforestation fund.

However, the Ministry of Forestry and Plantation last month reported irregularities in the mapping results, saying the techniques used were obsolete, uneconomical and did not live up to value of the contract.

Bob Hasan, who briefly served as minister of industry and trade in 1998, has been questioned by the Attorney General's Office since February over the case.

Accompanied by his secretary Andi Darussalam, the golf-buddy of former president Soeharto said he had no objections to being named a suspect in the corruption investigation.

"I must comply with the legal procedures," he said after the questioning. "Besides, this is a state based on law," he added.

Bob Hasan has disclosed on other occasions that government investigators have also questioned him about corruption cases involving Soeharto.

The Attorney General's Office has summoned the former president to appear on Thursday and answer questions regarding the management of billions of dollars of funds belonging to charitable foundations which he chaired.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Soehandoyo told The Jakarta Post that Bob Hasan did not have a lawyer as of Tuesday night.

"We will ask him about this," he said, adding that questioning would continue on Wednesday. (01)