Fri, 23 Feb 2001

IBRA plea against Tirtamas rejected

JAKARTA (JP): The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) to declare giant trading company PT Tirtamas Comexindo bankrupt, on the grounds that IBRA had no locus standi (legal standing) in the case.

"IBRA's bankruptcy appeal is rejected because the appellant (IBRA) has no qualification to be involved in the case," Tirtamas lawyer Hotman Parits Hutapea said on Thursday in a media statement.

IBRA filed the appeal last year, after the Jakarta Commercial Court annulled IBRA's case in declaring Tirtamas bankrupt.

Tirtamas was charged with bankruptcy, as it owned some Rp 1.5 trillion (about US$156 million) to various banks and non- financial institutions, including Bank Tamara with Rp 38.19 billion loans which IBRA represented.

The Supreme Court cited government regulation No 17/1999, article 40 to support the legal point as to why it rejected IBRA's appeal.

Article 40 stipulates that when IBRA takes over banks, it must thereafter act on behalf of the banks' management.

According to the court, IBRA's granting of a power of attorney for the case contradicted article 40 where the agency should have been acting on behalf of the bank.

However, the media release was unclear as to whom IBRA granted the power of attorney.

"The power of attorney must be declared defective," the court argued.

Last year the commercial court annulled IBRA's case, because documents showing IBRA as Tirtamas's creditors also contained legal flaws.

The flawed document concerned a cessie agreement (a form of factoring), between IBRA and Bank Tamara on Tirtamas' loans.

Court documents revealed that the Attorney General's Office, which represented IBRA in another bankruptcy case against Bank Pelita, acknowledged the cessie agreement between IBRA and Tamara to be flawed.

Among the mistakes the Attorney General's Office cited was the absence of a notary's office signature on the cessie agreement.

Tirtamas is controlled by business tycoon Hashim Djodjohadikusumo.

On Tuesday, IBRA filed another bankruptcy petition against Hashim over his failure to repay over $500,000 owed by one of his companies.

Reuters said that court papers it obtained read that Hashim should be declared bankrupt because he was the personal guarantor for debts owed by trading company PT Comexindo Maritime to Bank Umum Nasional.

Comexindo failed to repay the loan worth $500,000, after it matured in 1998.

Like Bank Tamara, Bank Umum Nasional was closed down during the economic crisis in 1997, and its assets were transferred to IBRA.

Comexindo Maritime is a subsidiary of Tirtamas Comexindo.

The first hearing of the case is scheduled to be held at the Central Jakarta Commercial Court next week.

IBRA has often failed in its bankruptcy cases, which some blame on the lack of transparency in the legal system, and alleged rampant bribery practices.

The government is considering amending the bankruptcy law in a bid to ensure greater legal certainties.(bkm)