Tue, 01 Aug 2000

Djoko S. Tjandra faces jail term of 18 months

JAKARTA (JP): A prosecutor demanded on Monday a jail term of one year and six months for Djoko S. Tjandra, the primary defendant in the Rp 546 billion (US$61.3 million) Bank Bali scandal.

"The defendant has violated Paragraph 1a of Article 1 of the 1971 Corruption Law. He deserves a jail term of one year and six months, and must pay the maximum fine of Rp 30 million," prosecutor Antashari Azhari said at a hearing at the South Jakarta District Court, presided by judge Soedarto.

Article 1 of Law No. 3/1971 carries a maximum life sentence or 20-year jail term and a possible fine of Rp 30 million.

Djoko, the director of trading and investment firm PT Era Giat Prima (EGP), was accused of being involved in the disbursement of Bank Bali's interbank loans from closed bank BDNI, an action that resulted in Rp 904 billion in losses to the state.

The state later managed to recoup the money.

The prosecutor, Antashari, refused to speak to reporters before Monday's hearing.

After the hearing, he looked grim.

Antashari told the court that several factors helped reduce his demand, which included the defendant's polite behavior during court, not being in trouble with the law before and that the state was able to recoup the funds.

"The factors going against the defendant are that he did not express regret over the crime, and that he tarnished Indonesia's image," Antashari said.

After the hearing, Djoko's lawyer O.C. Kaligis said the demand was unfair.

"Everybody heard what expert witness Loebby Luqman said in court, that receiving Rp 546 billion for assisting in recouping interbank loans was not a big deal (for PT EGP)," Kaligis said.

"And yet the prosecutor made such a demand."

In other hearings, Djoko's testimonies often shocked the courtroom. He told the court how he spent the Rp 546 billion commission, and the following steps PT EGP took after receiving the Rp 546 billion commission.

The January 1999 cessie contract between PT EGP and Bank Bali was signed, Djoko once said, because PT EGP was sure that the bank would be able to recoup the interbank loans from Bank BDNI.

"Why shouldn't EGP sign the contract? The government had guaranteed those loans. PT EGP saw no problems in signing that contract," Djoko said at a previous court hearing.

The scandal originated from the failure of three private banks -- Bank BDNI, Bank Tiara and Bank Umum Nasional -- to repay a total of Rp 904 billion to Bank Bali, a debt which remained until the three were closed by the central bank in late 1998, due to poor financial records.

Following the signing of the controversial January 1999 cessie contract between the bank and PT EGP, Bank Bali then paid Rp 546 billion to PT EGP as commission to help recoup the funds.

PT EGP instead delegated its authority to Bank Bali officially on March 29 last year to recoup the funds, despite receiving the Rp 546 billion commission from the bank.

The process of delegation of authority to recoup the funds, as often pointed out by O.C. Kaligis in court, is legal according to the Indonesian Civil Code.

Of the Rp 546 billion commission paid to PT EGP, Djoko said he used a little over Rp 434 billion, while Rp 112 billion was lent to PT Unggaran Sari Garment of the Texmaco Group.

Djoko added that the entire Rp 546 billion was returned later to the PT EGP account in Bank Bali. (ylt)