Tue, 19 Dec 2000

Dharmala executive 'key suspect' in Manulife case

JAKARTA (JP): The Capital Supervisory Agency (Bapepam) has identified former president of PT Dharmala Sakti Sejahtera, Suyanto Gondokusumo as its key suspect in a scam involving the sale of the company's shares in insurance company PT Asuransi Jiwa Manulife Indonesia (AJMI).

Bapepam's examination and investigation bureau chief Abraham Bastari said on Monday that his inquiry was focused on Suyanto, whom he suspected had played a key role in selling Dharmala's 40 percent stake in AJMI.

"He (Suyanto) holds the key, because we have asked directors and other commissioners and they all claim to not know anything," Abraham told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a breaking the fast gathering with Bapepam.

According to him, the former executives of the now bankrupt Dharmala have all pointed their fingers to Suyanto.

But Suyanto, he said, has reportedly left Indonesia.

Among the urgent questions that no one claims to know the answer to, was the existence of a letter of power of attorney, under which a Virgin Islands based company Roman Gold Assets Ltd., claimed to have bought Dharmala's 40 percent stake in AJMI.

Roman then disputed the sale of the same stake by the Jakarta Commercial Court to the Canadian-based insurance firm Manufacturer Life Insurance Co. (Manulife), after Dharmala was declared bankrupt in June.

Manulife paid Rp 170 billion (US$17.8 million) for the 40 percent stake, which would raise its ownership in the joint venture of AJMI to 91 percent from 51 percent.

The remaining nine percent is owned by the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank.

Roman, however, argued that it had bought the shares a few days earlier than Manulife, and therefore Manulife could not have been the legal owner.

Furthermore, Roman charged AJMI executives of having duplicated their own share certificates to facilitate their transfer to its parent company Manulife.

As a result, the police have detained Manulife's vice president Adhie Purnomo and Ari Ahmad Effendi, the court receiver in Dharmala's' case.

Ari organized the tender to auction Dharmala's stake in AJMI to help creditors recoup their loans.

But Bapepam's investigation revealed that Suyanto pledged its 40 percent stake in AJMI to Harvest Hero Limited as collateral to guarantee promissory notes worth $50 million issued by Dharmala's subsidiary PT Putra Suryagraha Pratama.

In the same year, Harvest Hero then issued a Power of Attorney letter to West Samoan company Highmead Limited for the sale of its stake in AJMI.

Highmead then sold Harvest's 40 percent stake in AJMI to Roman.

But neither Dharmala's former executives nor Bapepam knew about the existence of such a document, Abraham continued.

He said Suyanto could face criminal charges, if Bapepam concluded that he had violated capital market regulations on company information that must be disseminated to the public.

However, Abraham said it might take up to six months, until a strong case could be presented before the General Attorney's Office for a court hearing.

"We want to be thorough with this one, we don't have much experience with the General Attorney's Office," he explained.

Bapepam in its year end report said the number of cases it investigated this year surged to 39 cases from only 10 cases last year.

This year, most cases concerned the violation of not disseminating vital company information to the public. (bkm)