Tue, 06 May 2003

Jakarta court sends first BLBI defendant to prison

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A district court sentenced on Monday a former banker to three years in prison and ordered state prosecutors to imprison him immediately, making him the first defendant tried for misusing Bank Indonesia liquidity support (BLBI) funds to be put in prison.

The court also ordered the defendant, former director of the now-defunct PT Bank Asia Pacific (Aspac) Setiawan Harjono, to pay the state Rp 408 billion the bank allegedly misused and Rp 30 million in fines.

The sentence was far heavier than the prison term sought by chief prosecutor Endang Rahman, who earlier demanded a six-month prison term for the defendant tried for misusing Rp 809 billion in BLBI funds.

However, both Setiawan and his lawyers were not present when the sentenced was read out on Monday.

Setiawan, 57, is currently undergoing medical treatment at a private hospital in Central Jakarta for heart problems, while his defense lawyers, led by LMM Samosir, walked out after judges rejected their request for a delay in reading the verdict.

"I will inform the defendant's lawyers about the verdict," state prosecutor Endang said when asked by reporters whether or not he would execute the court order soon.

The court charged that the defendant, as president director of PT Bank Aspac, had failed to manage the bank's operations in accordance with prudential banking principles and other guidelines stipulated by the central bank.

"The defendant had no sense of crisis and disobeyed central bank' guidelines to manage the funds, causing financial losses to the state budget," the statement read, referring to BLBI funds intended to help national banks contain massive bank runs amid the economic crisis in 1997.

The central bank extended a total of Rp 144.5 trillion to banks under the BLBI program between 1997 and 1999.

Audit reports by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) revealed that some 95 percent of the Rp 144.5 trillion was misused by the banks.

According to the verdict, Aspac misused a total of Rp 408 billion out of Rp 1.56 trillion of BLBI funds it received from the central bank.

Setiawan had been charged under Article 1 of Anticorruption Law No. 3/1971, which carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Setiawan's brother, Hendrawan Harjono, was acquitted from corruption charges in the same court in 2000. However, the Jakarta High Court sentenced him in 2002 to five years in jail and ordered him to pay Rp 583.4 billion in compensation. He appealed the verdict.

Setiawan's case was heard by a panel of three judges consisting of Judge Ridwantoro, Judge I Wayan Rene, and Presiding Judge Lalu Mariyun.

Next week, Lalu was to be promoted as a judge with the Surabaya High Court. However, the Supreme Court has suggested his promotion be canceled because based on an agreement between the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, a judge who has served in a district court on Java island must serve as a high court judge outside Java.

Lalu is currently being questioned by the Jakarta High Court over several complaints about his rulings, including a court case involving shareholders of paint producer PT ICI Paints Indonesia.

He ruled in favor ICI Omicron B. V., which hired Yusril Ihza Mahendra & Partners (now called Ihza & Ihza), during its legal battle against its local partner PT Dwi Satrya Utama (DSU).