Tue, 23 May 2000

Police say retired general among money scam suspects

SURABAYA (JP): Surabaya Police confirmed on Monday that three retired Army officers, including a retired general, were suspected in the production and circulation of counterfeit money totaling Rp 4.7 billion (US$546,433).

Surabaya City Police deputy chief Lt. Col Susno Duadji identified the three as Brig. Gen. (ret) Soemarjono, Col. (ret) Slamet Hardjo and First Corp. (ret) Shi'in.

"Slamet Hardjo and Shi'in are among 13 suspects now in police detention, while Soemarjono has yet to arrive in Indonesia from Malaysia," Susno said.

"The arrested suspects said the general was behind the game. But we'll investigate this very carefully if the information is correct."

Soemarjono was the manager of the Indonesian Thomas Cup badminton team which was victorious in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

The national badminton team arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, but reporters looking for Soemarjono could not find him among the contingent of players and officials.

"He was with us on the plane from Kuala Lumpur," a team member, who asked not to be identified, said.

Another team official, who also asked for anonymity, said that he saw Soemarjono sitting in the back row on the plane. "I didn't see him as we arrived at the airport."

Unofficial sources believed Soemarjono was probably picked up by the police upon arrival.

Kompas reported that Soemarjono said in Kuala Lumpur that he was surprised at being named a suspect in the counterfeit money business.

He said he was ready for questioning when he arrived in Jakarta.

Susno said police raided Soemarjono's house in Cakung, East Jakarta. He said no evidence was found in the house, but he did not specify the date of the raid.

Susno said the fake money syndicate was uncovered in Surabaya on May 12 with the arrest of Slamet Hardjo. The 61-year-old resident of Jati Waringin, East Jakarta, was apprehended with fake money valued at Rp 1.9 million. From him the Surabaya Police, in cooperation with the Jakarta Police, learned of the site for producing the fake money in Cakung, East Jakarta, Susno said.

"The police confiscated large sheets bearing a huge number of uncut fake Rp 50,000 notes totaling Rp 4.7 billion. The notes consisted of the old one bearing the picture of Soeharto and new ones with the picture of WR Supratman," Susno said, referring to the composer of the Indonesian anthem Indonesia Raya.

"Paraphernalia believed to be used in producing the fake notes has also been seized."

He added the suspects said a total of Rp 30 million of the fake money was already in circulation.

Susno described the syndicate's network as precise and professional.

"They are committed to keeping secrets and claimed not to know each other. We separated them in the cells."

Each pack of fake notes totaling up to Rp 5 million was bundled with labels with Bank Central Asia embossed on them, Susno said. (nur/ivy/sur)