Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Bribery allegation hits judge candidate Teguh

JAKARTA (JP): Teguh Samudra, one of 10 independent ad hoc judges proposed by the government for the Jakarta Commercial Court, was allegedly involved in a Rp 2 billion (US$250,000) court bribery involving a civil dispute occurring in 1998, according to a document.

The document alleges that Teguh -- who at the time represented the now defunct Bank PDFCI -- paid to smooth out the Denpasar District Court's sequestration and auction process of a hotel in Denpasar, Bali, the document added.

"From the budgeted Rp 3 billion, we have so far used Rp 1.8 billion for the sequestration process of PT Griya Wijaya Prestige's (GWP) assets," said the document.

The above document was part of a set of documents obtained by The Jakarta Post.

The set of documents comprise, among other things, copies of payment receipts which were made out to Bank PDFCI from Teguh Samudra law firm and a copy of an internal document describing the developments of a legal battle between GWP and PDFCI which was signed by the bank's senior official Augustus Sani Nugroho. He is currently serving as a senior legal official at the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).

"Another Rp 200 million was used to 'take care' of a related case in the Central Jakarta District Court," the document added.

The related document said the initial Rp 3 billion budgeted cost broke down into four classes of expenses, namely, the issuance of the court's demand letter, which cost PDFCI Rp 50 million, the cost of the sequestration process at Rp 600 million, the cost of the auction process at Rp 1.56 billion and the lawyer's fee for Teguh at Rp 790 million.

Teguh denied he attempted to bribe the court, adding that the validity of the documents was questionable.

"I am against any kind of court bribery. The documents are baseless and may be phony," he said on Wednesday.

Teguh Samudra was hired by PDFCI in 1998 to represent it in a legal dispute against GWP, the owner of Sol Elite Paradiso Hotel in Bali.

The legal dispute occurred after the latter failed to repay its maturing debt installments to the bank.

The bank filed the suit in Denpasar District Court and the documents said it won the suit at the appeal level at the Supreme Court. The documents, however, do not provide details of the results of the trials in the district and high courts.

The Supreme Court verdict instructed GWP, owned by the Karjadi family, to repay all its defaulted debts within a certain period of time to PDFCI or lose its pledged asset -- the Sol Elite Paradiso Hotel -- through a liquidation process.

However, the liquidation process did not go smoothly due to various obstacles, including an unexpected "letter" issued by the chief justice of the Supreme Court in early 1998 which instructed the Denpasar District Court to delay the liquidation process.

A lawyer close to the case said the country's legal system was so bad that even parties who win cases should provide some bribes to the court to execute the verdict.

"Court bribery is widespread in Indonesia, but a lawyer who is involved in the practice does not qualify for an ad hoc judge position in this reform era," he added.

The government has proposed 10 ad hoc judges to handle certain cases which might require various areas of legal jurisprudence in the Jakarta Commercial Court.

Other judges include prominent lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, senior advisor to Minister of Law Ratnawati and chairman of the Agency for National Legal Development (BPHN) HAS Natabaya.

These independent judges will be appointed by the government after consultations with the Supreme Court.

Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra earlier said a presidential decree would be issued later this month to officially appoint the 10 judges. (udi)