Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Manimaren's death surprises friends

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Born in the North Sumatra capital, Medan, 46 years ago, businessman and politician Marimutu Manimaren was known as a humorous person with high-profile lobbying skills.

Police alleged that the former treasurer of the Golkar Party committed suicide, jumping from the 56th floor of a hotel in South Jakarta early on Tuesday morning.

His friends, most of whom are politicians, raised queries over Manimaren's death.

"I was shocked upon hearing about his death," said Hariman Siregar, a close friend of Manimaren. Hariman said he had met Manimaren last weekend.

Manimaren had not said anything was bothering him during the meeting, he added.

Golkar Chairman Akbar Tandjung said Manimaren's death had nothing to do with politics.

"I don't think there were political problems," he said.

Akbar said Manimaren was no longer active as his party's treasurer as he had wanted to concentrate on his business.

He alleged that Manimaren's death was connected to his companies, which face a variety of business difficulties.

Manimaren was the brother of Marimutu Sinivasan, the chairman of the heavily indebted Texmaco industrial group, a major producer of textiles and heavy industrial equipment.

The Texmaco Group was one of many Indonesian business conglomerates hard hit by the financial crisis of 1997. It is currently under the supervision of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

Manimaren stole public attention in 1999 for his role in the Bank Bali corruption scandal. The incident centered around the repayment of Rp 904 billion in loans extended by Bank Bali to three defunct private banks -- Bank BDNI, Bank Tiara, and Bank Umum Nasional. The government had taken over the third-party liabilities of closed banks at the time.

He allegedly facilitated a meeting between former Bank Bali president director Rudy Ramly and former finance minister Bambang Subianto and Hariman to discuss Bank Bali's claims.

Rudy also revealed that Manimaren facilitated his meeting with former chairman of the Supreme Advisory Council A.A. Baramuli and former state minister for the empowerment of state enterprises Tanri Abeng, Djoko Tjandra and Setya Novanto of PT Era Giat Prima (EGP) about the issue.

PT EGP proposed the processing of Bank Bali's claims, but sought a commission of Rp 546 billion. Many believe that the money was donated to Golkar's 1999 general election campaign fund.

Recently, Manimaren was summoned by a working committee at the House of Representatives in connection with a recent countertrade deal between the government and Russia for Jakarta to purchase Sukhoi jet fighters and Mi-35 helicopters from Moscow.

A number of legislators said the deal was not in line with existing procedures, demanding the government cancel the deal.

His brother, Sinivasan, declined to comment on the death of Manimaren, whose wife and children currently live in the U.S.