Mon, 22 May 2000

Laksamana blasts decision to halt Texmaco inquiry

BANDUNG, West Java (JP): Former state minister of investment and state enterprises development Laksamana Sukardi lambasted the government on Saturday for its decision to halt the investigation into the alleged Texmaco loan scandal.

Laksamana insisted that the loan transaction violated banking rulings and had caused the state to suffer financial losses.

"I disagree with the Attorney General's Office that (the loan transaction) has not caused the state to suffer financial losses," he told reporters.

He pointed out that the former president Soeharto had issued a letter to exempt state Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) from the legal lending limit requirement to allow it to channel some Rp 9.6 trillion (US$1.15 billion) in a loan to the textile giant.

He also said that the state had suffered financial losses because the government had to spend dearly to recapitalize Bank BNI.

Laksamana expressed concern that the decision might damage efforts to revive confidence in the economy.

The Attorney General's Office announced on Friday that it had stopped the investigation into the Texmaco case because there was no sufficient evidence that the state had suffered financial losses from the loan transaction as confirmed by the testimonies of experts from the State Development Finance Comptroller or BPKP.

Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes Ramelan said that Texmaco had provided more than sufficient collateral for the loan.

Ramelan also said that there was no evidence of the involvement of Soeharto in the loan transaction.

Laksamana shocked the House of Representatives in November last year when he accused Texmaco founder Marimutu Sinivasan of colluding with Soeharto to force BNI to channel the huge loan.

Marimutu was named a suspect in the case on Dec. 2, immediately after Attorney General Marzuki Darusman received the document on the alleged corruption case from Laksamana.

Laksamana was still a minister at the time. He was recently dismissed by President Abdurrahman Wahid, who has been reshuffling the Cabinet to improve its performance.

Laksamana was unsure if there was a political conspiracy behind the decision to halt the probe into the Texmaco case.

Asked if he was disappointed by the decision, he said: "As a good citizen, I have tried (to fight corruption) but I have not succeeded."

The respected Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) had also earlier lambasted the government over the decision.

The organization said that the decision was an indication that the government lacked commitment to curb corruption.

"The reason to halt the investigation of the Texmaco case, based on the result of the BPKP audit, is irresponsible, considering that the credibility of BPKP is doubted," ICW head Teten Masduki said.

"We also suspect a high political conspiracy behind the decision to issue the ruling (to halt the investigation) as part of a plan to bail out the Texmaco group," he said.

Texmaco is a giant integrated textile firm which was founded in 1962. The group now controls various companies, including the manufacturing of synthetic fibers, textiles, garments, textile machinery, machine tools, trucks and small tractors and a wide range of other engineering goods.

Texmaco's engineering goods such as textile machinery, machine tools, automobile components, fabrics and garments have entered markets in South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

Three Texmaco subsidiaries, PT Texmaco Jaya (textiles and garments), PT Texmaco Perkasa Engineering (metals, machinery and trucks) and PT Polysindo Eka Perkasa (synthetic fibers and fabrics) are listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

The group directly employs 50,000 workers and had a cumulative export value of $900 million from 1997 to 1999. It also supplies basic materials to 270 other companies with 150,000 workers. (rei/25)