Thu, 20 Nov 2003

Key BNI suspect arrested

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

One of the key suspects in the Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) scandal was arrested Tuesday evening at an unspecified locale in Jakarta after being on the lam for about a month.

Meanwhile, Gen. (ret) Wiranto, one of Golkar's candidates, filed a complaint with the police on Wednesday against another suspect and his lawyer for suggesting that Wiranto had met with several of the suspects thought to be involved in the BNI scandal prior to the disbursement of hundreds of millions of dollars.

National Police Spokesperson Sr. Comr. Zainuri Lubis said that the suspect, identified as Adrian Waworuntu, was now undergoing police interrogation at the national police headquarters.

Adrian is the co-owner of Gramarindo, a business group that reportedly received Rp 1.7 trillion (US$200 million) from publicly listed BNI in the form of 41 bogus letters of credit issued by some questionable foreign banks. The other owner is Maria Paulien Lumowa, who is still at large.

"We have been questioning Adrian Waworuntu since Tuesday night. With his arrest, we hope that we can add some more witnesses and evidence relating to the case," said Zainuri.

Zainuri said Adrian gave $5 million, presumably proceeds from the scam, to police but stressed that Adrian could not escape prosecution despite the gesture.

"The investigation process will go forward, although the suspect has handed over some of the money," he said.

The arrest of Adrian brings the number of suspects in police custody to 11. Police had earlier questioned and detained 10 others, three BNI officials and seven directors of subsidiaries of the Gramarindo Group.

The scandal revolves around the redemption of 41 bogus letters of credit worth Rp 1.7 trillion by BNI's Kebayoran Baru branch in South Jakarta from July 2002 through June 2003.

Edi Santoso, former BNI Kebayoran Baru foreign customer head and one of the suspects in the scandal, revealed on Tuesday that Adrian and Maria had promised to push for his promotion as a BNI director in exchange for his assistance in redeeming the letters of credit.

He also made public a letter, in which he stated that he met with Wiranto twice during the period in which the scam was going on. According to Edi's letter, the first meeting was held in March at Wiranto's office on Jl. Telung Betutu, Central Jakarta.

The second meeting took place in April when Edi was invited to a house in Kemang, South Jakarta. There, he met with Wiranto, some chairpersons of small political parties and businessmen. They talked about Wiranto's plan to run for president in 2004.

According to the letter, Wiranto said that he was ready for the presidency but had no funds for the campaign. Maria and Adrian replied that they were ready to raise funds to support his candidacy.

The letter, however, fell short of confirming previous rumors that Wiranto was one of a possible three Golkar presidential candidates who allegedly received money from BNI scandal suspects.

Wiranto denied on Wednesday that he knew or met with Edi Santoso.

Wiranto's lawyers filed the police complaint against Edi and his lawyer Herman Kadir.

"Wiranto doesn't know Edi. It is possible that he came to our client's house because as a presidential candidate, Wiranto has to meet with so many people. And he can't remember meeting with Edi. Anyway, we will check our client's guest book," Wiranto's lawyer Yan Juanda told the press on Wednesday.

A hand-out released by the lawyers stated that Wiranto had nothing to do with BNI scandal. Wiranto also denied having any business connection directly or indirectly with any of the BNI scandal suspects, including Edi, Maria, Adrian or Ollah Agam.

"Wiranto knows Adrian only because both have the same interest in riding big motorcycles," said Ray Abikusno, another of Wiranto's lawyers.

Meanwhile, police said that they were not aware of the letter released by Edi to the press on Tuesday but promised to investigate all allegations.

"We do not know anything about the letter. It has not been submitted to us or recorded in the dossier. But we will check Edi's letter because we have him in our custody," said Zainuri.