Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Pande was absent in meetings of Bank Bali

JAKARTA (JP): Defendant Pande Lubis told a hearing on Monday that he was out of town when important meetings were held last year with regard to the disbursement of Rp 904 billion (US$103.9 million) to recoup Bank Bali's interbank loans from defunct bank BDNI.

The former deputy chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) was questioned in the hearing, presided over by judge I Gde Putra Yadnya, on his alleged role in the Rp 546 billion Bank Bali scandal.

"I was present in the first meeting between top officials of IBRA, the central bank and the Ministry of Finance. In the meetings held between May 23 and May 28, 1999 I was out of town," Pande told the hearing.

"I only knew of those meetings upon my return to Jakarta on June 1 from Indra Rahtiko Sunyoto and Toto Budiarso of IBRA's liabilities division."

Pande said the meetings, initiated by the Ministry of Finance, focused on the of settling of interbank loans and IBRA's recapitalization program.

Pande told the hearing that during the May 22 board meeting which he attended, those present wanted all interbank loans to be settled by May 28, 1999.

"I told them it would be very difficult, since even in the case of Bank Bali, the Ministry of Finance had not issued any kind of official decision," Pande told the hearing.

"On May 23, I went abroad. I was told by my friends at the liabilities division later that from that day to May 28, meetings on the matter had been held everyday."

He added that on June 1, he was given two letters signed by IBRA's deputy director Farid Hariyanto, one of which was on Bank Bali's interbank loans.

"I had nothing to do with those letters. They were signed by Farid and given to me. I was told to deliver them to the central bank. Farid approved it," Pande said.

Judge Yadnya adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.

Three private banks -- Bank BDNI, Bank Tiara and Bank Umum Nasional -- failed to repay a total of Rp 904 billion to Bank Bali, a debt which remained unpaid until the three were liquidated by the central bank in late 1998 due to poor financial records.

Bank Bali then asked the government for a loan disbursement as it had been put under a restructuring program.

Following the signing of the January 1999 cessie contract between the bank and factoring firm PT Era Giat Prima (EGP), Bank Bali paid Rp 546 billion to PT EGP as commission to help recoup the funds.

Several witnesses in initial hearings noted that PT EGP should never have taken over Bank Bali's interbank loans since they were guaranteed by the government under the restructuring program.

On Aug. 28 the South Jakarta District Court exonerated director of PT EGP Djoko S. Tjandra of all charges in the scandal in light of a legal technicality and prosecutor Antasari Azhar's failure to back his case with witnesses.

Antasari has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. (ylt)