Tue, 08 Aug 2000

Lawyers proclaim Djoko's innocence

JAKARTA (JP): Defense attorneys of Djoko S. Tjandra, the main defendant in the high-profile Bank Bali scandal, insisted on Monday that their client had not caused any loss to the state as the Rp 546 billion (US$61.3 million) commission for PT Era Giat Prima (EGP) was the bank's own money.

Reading out a 1,000-page written rebuttal to the 18-month jail term earlier sought by prosecutor Antashari Azhari for Djoko, the team of eight defense attorneys, led by O.C. Kaligis, described the jail term sought as outrageous.

"The money received by PT EGP from Bank Bali is purely the bank's money and to date is still in PT EGP's account in Bank Bali and has not been recouped by the state. Not even one rupiah belonging to the state has been squandered," one of the eight lawyers said at a South Jakarta District Court hearing, presided over by judge Soedarto.

"The prosecution has failed to prove in court that the defendant has caused loss to the state. Therefore, the Rp 546 billion rightfully belongs to the defendant and should be returned to him."

Djoko, the director of trading and investment at PT EGP, is accused of being involved in the disbursement of Bank Bali's interbank loans from closed bank BDNI, an action that caused losses to the state.

Bank Bali then paid a Rp 546 billion commission to PT EGP for the firm's assistance in recouping the interbank loans, which it never did.

Antashari has charged that the defendant violated Paragraph 1a of Article 1 of the 1971 Corruption Law.

"He deserves a jail term of one year and six months, and should pay the maximum fine of Rp 30 million," prosecutor Antashari Azhari said at a previous court hearing on Monday of last week.

Article 1 of Law No. 3/1971 carries a maximum life sentence and a fine of Rp 30 million.

The scandal originated from the failure of three private banks -- Bank BDNI, Bank Tiara and Bank Umum Nasional -- to repay a total of Rp 904 billion to Bank Bali, a debt which remained outstanding when the three of them were closed by the Central Bank in late 1998, due to poor financial record-keeping.

A verification by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) resulted in the disbursement of Rp 904 billion in payment to Bank Bali, which verification had reportedly been based on prudential principles and verification conducted jointly with Bank Indonesia (the Central Bank).

Judge Soedarto adjourned the next hearing to next Monday, when Antashari will reply to the rebuttals by the defendant's team of lawyers. (ylt)