Sun, 21 Dec 2003

Prosecutors examine more accounts in BRI investigation

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State prosecutors have been scrutinizing more accounts in other banks in their investigation into the fraud case involving state- owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), which caused Rp 294 billion (US$34.5 million) in losses.

The assistant for special crimes to the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office Marwan Effendi, told the Jakarta Post on Saturday that the investigators had examined seven more accounts in several banks including accounts in BRI itself and private banks such as Citibank and Bank International Indonesia.

"There is a great possibility that we will name several new suspects ... based on these examinations," said Marwan.

Investigators had earlier probed nine accounts at the BCA branch offices in Kuningan in South Jakarta, the GKBI building in Central Jakarta, Matraman and Pasar Baru both in Central Jakarta.

There are 29 accounts that received funds siphoned from BRI. The combined balance of the accounts is around Rp 100 billion, with Rp 66 billion of it already withheld so far in a secure account at the BRI's Senen branch.

The prosecutors are still questioning the BRI branch managers in Senen, Deden Gumilar, the Surya Kencana sub-branch in Bogor, Asep Tarwan and the Tanah Abang sub-branch, Agus Riyanto as well as businessmen Yudi Kartolo and Hartono as suspects.

"We are now interrogating them (branch managers) as suspects. We hope we can find out where the remaining Rp 194 billion has gone," said Marwan.

The prosecutors previously revealed that the accounts bore the names of Henry Gozali, Donny Maulana, Yohannes Eka Negara and the main suspect Yudi, but the investigators said the names could be new suspects or just false names used by the arrested suspects.

Marwan said he was convinced that the misuse of funds took place following the questioning of two BRI experts on Thursday and Friday, who said the BRI officials and businessmen had orchestrated the scam, the second to surface after the scandal in another state bank, the Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI).

"It is clear from the statements of the two experts that the three branch and sub-branch heads colluded with the two businessmen to embezzle money from BRI," he said.

The prosecutors are still waiting for a Bank Indonesia expert on banking transactions to give his report, but he failed to turn up on Friday.

Marwan said prosecutors were also investigating the assets belonging to the five suspects, including several buildings and stock shares.

"The assets could bear the names of their family members or other parties. So, we need to cross-check with the time that they bought the assets," he said.

The prosecutors would need approval from the High Court to issue a freeze order on homes or office buildings.

Separately, the Attorney General's Office said it expected to complete the probe and hand over the case to the court within a month.

Deputy attorney general for special crimes Sudhono Iswahyudi said the investigation would finish "before the police complete their investigation of the BNI case".

"People will see who win the competition (between the police and the prosecutors)," he quipped.

The BNI fraud case looks to be more complicated because many of the main suspects have fled abroad. The BNI scam caused Rp 1.7 trillion in losses.