Tue, 21 Nov 2000

Manulife sues Roman Gold, Gondokusumo

JAKARTA (JP): PT Asuransi Jiwa Manulife Indonesia (AJMI) said on Monday it had filed criminal suits against Suyanto Gondokusumo, the principal of Dharmala Sakti Sejahtera (DSS) group, and British Virgin Islands-based firm Roman Gold Assets over a share purchase dispute.

The insurance firm said in a statement that the lawsuit, accused Suyanto of forging documents and engaging in an alleged sham transaction in the sale of the DSS share certificates to Roman Gold.

The company asked the police to investigate Suyanto and Roman Gold.

The filing of the criminal suits against Suyanto and Roman Gold is the latest development in legal jousting that is forcing AJMI to defend its reputation after the majority shareholder of the insurance firm was accused of illegal shares acquisition.

Until the shares acquisition, Manulife Indonesia was 51 percent owned by PT Manulife Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Canada-based Manulife Financial, in partnership with DSS, which had 40 percent shares, and International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of World Bank, which held the remaining 9 percent.

DSS, which was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange, was declared bankrupt by the Jakarta Commercial Court in June this year.

Last month, Manulife Insurance Company purchased the 40 percent stake of DSS in AJMI for Rp 170 billion (US$16.4 million) through an auction sale by the court. The proceeds were expected to pay DSS' financial obligations to creditors.

According to the insurance firm, the auction was approved and authorized by the Indonesian government and adhered to existing regulations.

However, the police dismissed the share acquisition as illegal, citing Roman Gold's allegation that it had bought the DSS shares.

The police arrested AJMI's vice president Adhi Poernomo on charges of duplicating share certificates held by DSS.

Adhi has been in police custody for 20 days.

AJMI's president Philip Hampden-Smith voiced concerns over the fact that the police had detained Adhi and put AJMI under scrutiny despite the legitimate purchase of the shares, while making no probes into Suyanto and Roman Gold.

"Manulife Indonesia bought the shares of our bankrupt partner with the full support of the other shareholder, International Finance Corporation ... at a ministry of finance and Indonesian government authorized auction.

"Despite this fact, we now find ourselves under intense scrutiny and our vice president in police custody without charge -- while neither Roman Gold and DSS have even been investigated by the police," Hampden-Smith said, calling on the police to investigate Suyanto and Roman Gold.

Hampden-Smith also called on the police to release Adhi, citing that under Indonesian law, a suspect might be allowed to stay home on condition that the suspect would not damage evidence or run away.

"We are doing all we can within the laws and regulations of Indonesia to get our friend and colleague out of detention and back to his family, as he has not done anything wrong," Hampden- Smith said. (jsk)