Sun, 18 Jun 2000

Five arrested over failed theft of Pertamina funds

JAKARTA (JP): Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) security guards apprehended five people on Friday attempting to transfer Rp 125 billion (US$14.7 million) out of the account of state-owned oil and gas company, Pertamina, a police officer said on Saturday.

The five, none of whom are employees or former employees of the oil company, were identified as Johannes Pramono, Deny Mahardono, Jodi Juanda, Rafael Hari and Ferry.

Central Jakarta Police detectives chief Capt. Hendra Suhartiyono said the five were detained by security guards after they tried to transfer the money from BNI's Gambir branch office in Central Jakarta to an account of Johannes, also at BNI's Gambir branch.

Hendra said Johannes and his four accomplice submitted a transfer request to the bank's teller. The request letter was printed on Pertamina stationery and bore the signatures of the company's finance director, Ainun Na'im, and chief of finance, Lukman Hakim.

The letter, dated June 12, 2000, stated that the company ordered the transfer Rp 70 billion and US$7 million from the company's account no.: 260136/06/b3a/Valas/2000 to Johannes' account no.: 25900030293100.

"The staff was suspicious that such a large sum of money should be transferred to an individual account," Hendra said.

He said the bank's staff then reconfirmed the transfer request with Pertamina's finance division, but the latter denied that the company had issued such a letter and asked the bank's security officers to keep the five men inside until some Pertamina personnel arrived.

"Pertamina's staff went to the bank and took the five to the company's headquarters for questioning," Hendra said.

He added that the police would investigate further whether the corporate letter was counterfeit and if not, where they obtained the corporate letterhead.

Johannes told the police detectives during an eight-hour interrogation that he obtained the letter from a man, named Anto (not his real name), who claimed to work at the bank.

Anto is Johannes' potential business partner. Both had been planning to set up a cigarette factory in Beijing," he said, while hinting that Johannes was a director in a now-defunct cigarette company.

Johannes, he added, had forced Anto to prove that he had the money to run the business.

"And Anto showed him the letter," Hendra said.

The police checked with BNI about Anto's status, but the bank claimed that it did not have an employee named Anto, as described by Johannes.

Hendra said the police had also checked Anto's address.

"It's a phony address and we could not find him anywhere," he said.

He said the police would start an investigation to find Anto and name Johannes as suspect in the attempted theft, but would free the other four men.

"The results of our preliminary questioning indicates that the four men did not know anything about the transfer and that they were there only to escort Johannes," he said. (06)