Fri, 23 Feb 2001

Bogus general nabbed for attempted fraud

JAKARTA (JP): A man claiming to be Irian Jaya Police chief Brig. Gen. Made Mangku Pastika was arrested on Thursday for allegedly attempting to deceive mining company PT Freeport Indonesia out of Rp 100 million (US$10,416).

The man, identified as Edy Margono, reportedly called a member of Freeport's board of directors Prihadi Santoso at the company's head office on Jl. Rasuna Said, South Jakarta, on Wednesday and introduced himself as the Irian Jaya Police chief.

The 25-year-old Edy apparently told Prihadi that he needed Rp 100 million and wanted to borrow the money from the company, a copper and gold producer which is a subsidiary of U.S. firm Freeport-McMoRan Cooper & Gold Inc.

The caller asked Prihadi to transfer the money to a savings account at a Bank Niaga branch on Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta.

Prihadi then asked his secretary to remit Rp 100 million to the account.

However Prihadi later became suspicious and called Pastika's secretary at the Irian Jaya Police Headquarters to confirm the request for a loan.

The secretary told Prihadi that the police chief had not asked to borrow any money.

Prihadi quickly contacted Bank Niaga to stop the remittance and reported the case to the police.

The following morning, at about 8 a.m., Prihadi got a call from the Jl. Thamrin Bank Niaga manager informing him that a man had tried to withdraw the money.

Prihadi asked him to stall the suspect while he contacted the police.

Police officers arrested Edy, who was still with the bank teller who was pretending to process the withdrawal.

Police seized a counterfeit identification card (KTP) in the name of Made Mangku Pastika.

The suspect is still being questioned at city police headquarters.

During the preliminary questioning, Edy repeatedly denied attempting to cheat the company. "It was not me sir, it was not me," the suspect was quoted by an investigator. But the suspect, who the police strip searched, declined to mention any names.

A source said it may not have been Edy who telephoned Prihadi, but that he may have been asked to withdraw the money from the bank. (jun)