Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Marzuki seeks Swiss's help to find Soeharto's account

JAKARTA (JP): Attorney General Marzuki Darusman reiterated on Friday his appeal to the Swiss government to help the Indonesian authorities probe former president Soeharto's financial wealth which might be hidden in that country.

Marzuki also disclosed that the government was awaiting reports from Indonesian embassies on foreign assets owned by the former first family.

The Attorney General's Office itself is concentrating its work on possibly seizing the former first family's assets in Indonesia.

"We hope all these efforts will be successful in the near future," Marzuki told journalists at his office without further elaboration.

Two days after obtaining an approval from the South Jakarta District Court to seize the Granadi Building, owned by a Soeharto-chaired foundation, five state prosecutors confiscated documents relating to activities of the Supersemar Foundation.

Supersemar is one of seven charitable foundations chaired by the former ruler, who has been officially declared a suspect in possible graft and abuse of power.

Marzuki said that his office delayed the seizure of the land and the building to avoid misunderstandings that would likely come from several parties, including Soeharto's lawyers and supporters.

"I would prefer to be cautious in handling this matter in order to avoid mistakes which could hamper the whole investigation process," he said, adding that the documents would be used to verify the ownership of the land and the building.

Separately, former minister of justice Muladi urged the government on Friday to step up its diplomatic efforts in finding the assets of Soeharto and his family in Austria, Switzerland and the United States.

Muladi indicated he had strong clues pointing to Soeharto owning bank accounts in these countries.

Time magazine in a report last year alleged that billions of dollars had been funneled into overseas accounts during Soeharto's rule.

Muladi, who was assigned by then president B.J. Habibie to lead a failed government investigation team to Austria and Switzerland in June last year, stressed that the government should not give up its efforts.

Muladi said that at the time Austria and the United States declared that they could not find accounts belonging to Soeharto, while Switzerland only said that it would help Indonesia if Soeharto was officially charged.

"But it does not mean there is no (Soeharto) money there, because it would have been impossible for (Soeharto) to do it in such a transparent way," Muladi told journalists on the sidelines of a seminar here.

This was one of the first times Muladi explicitly disclosed his belief in the possibility of Soeharto's deposits overseas.

"We must work hard to prove the money laundering, because the process is legally complicated," Muladi acknowledged.

During a visit to Bern on Jan. 31 this year, President Abdurrahman Wahid officially asked Swiss President Adolf Ogi to help Indonesia in its efforts to trace Soeharto's assets. (01/dja/prb)