Fri, 17 Nov 2000

Commercial court begins Manulife bankruptcy suit

JAKARTA (JP): The Jakarta Commercial Court began on Thursday the first session of a bankruptcy suit filed by an insurance policy holder and beneficiaries against life insurance firm PT Asuransi Jiwa Manulife Indonesia.

The suit was filed over the firm's decision to refuse to pay US$500,000 in insurance money to Monica, Marcellina and Protus, children of the man insured, the belated Paulus Tanuhandaru.

Paulus died at the age of 54 in March 1994, nearly two years after the life insurance firm -- formerly PT Asuransi Jiwa Dharmala Manulife -- issued the policy in August 1992, a lawyer told the Thursday hearing.

"The plaintiffs have suffered $680,000 in material losses as a result of Manulife's violation... Manulife has violated Article 1234 of the Civil Code on binding agreements," the plaintiffs' lawyer Lucas told the hearing which was presided over by judge Mahdi Nasution.

"We demand Manulife pay $680,000 to the plaintiffs for losses caused... $500,000 is the sum insured. The balance $180,000 is the (six percent) interest accumulated in the past five years (1994-2000)."

While Paulus's three children are beneficiaries, the policy holder is Marcellina.

The policy was issued after physical examinations conducted by two doctors appointed by the insurance firm gave Paulus a clean bill of health, Lucas said.

"Marcellina made five quarterly premium payments of $5,075 beginning from Aug. 11, 1992. The last payment was made on March 29, 1994, the day her father died," Lucas said, quoting a court document dated Nov. 7 this year.

Manulife chief director, Adhie Purnomo Widjaya, officially declined to make the $500,000 payment to the policy holder in July 1994, therefore reneging on what was stated in the policy Manulife had issued and Adhie had signed the rejection letter in his capacity as chief director, Lucas said.

"Keeping in mind that Manulife is indebted to other parties, we worry that Manulife might sell or move their assets to other businesses," Lucas said.

"We, therefore, hope the Jakarta Commercial Court declares Manulife bankrupt and seize Manulife's nonmovable and movable assets."

Manulife director Adhie Purnomo had been recently detained at the National Police Headquarters for questioning as a suspect in a fraud case involving alleged duplication of share certificates of the insurance firm.

Before Thursday's hearing began, Marcellina told The Jakarta Post that her father was diagnosed with cancer in January 1993 by the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital here, about five months after the policy was issued by Manulife.

"We went to Singapore, China and so many other places to have my father treated. We spent over Rp 70 million ($7,500) which was big money that time... and we made the premium payments regularly."

"Nobody ever thought he would pass away so soon because my grandma died in her 70s. That was why my father decided on a 20- year insurance policy. We never expected to suffer like this."

Marcellina said she filed a civil lawsuit against Manulife at the Central Jakarta District Court in December 1997 but the district court dropped the lawsuit in March 1998.

In April that year, she reported Adhie Purnomo and Manulife- appointed doctor Daldiono to the National Police Headquarters on fraud charges and filed an appeal to the Jakarta High Court.

With doctors appointed by Manulife refusing to testify, the High Court dropped the lawsuit as well. Marcellina has since appealed to the Supreme Court.

In response to the bankruptcy suit, Manulife's lawyer Hafzan Taher demanded the Thursday hearing reject the suit based on the fact that the Central Jakarta District Court and the Jakarta High Court had dropped the initial civil lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs against Manulife.

"Based on that, it has been legally proven that Manulife does not owe the plaintiffs anything," Hafzan said.

Judge Mahdi adjourned the hearing until next Tuesday. (ylt)