Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Seizure of Soeharto assets to begin soon

JAKARTA (JP): The Attorney General's Office announced on Wednesday it would begin the seizure of assets related to former president Soeharto's corruption charges in the coming few days.

Spokesman for the office Yushar Yahya told a media conference here that preparations were underway for a legal measure following official approval from the South Jakarta District Court earlier in the day.

The approval was signed by the court's deputy chairman JMT Simatupang.

"Since we've already got the court's approval, we are now arranging all measures to execute the seizure smoothly, including the security of it and actions to take if someone tries to impede our work," Yushar said.

A member of the state prosecutor's team investigating the former ruler, who requested anonymity, told journalists on Wednesday that the seizure would begin on Thursday.

In its letter of request, dated April 18, the Attorney General's Office asked the court to allow the sealing of the Granadi building, located on Jl. Rasuna Said in South Jakarta's business district.

The 20-story building currently houses the offices of Soeharto's seven charitable foundations, while a major part of it is leased for commercial purposes.

Soeharto is suspected of abusing his power and authority as president during 32 years of rule by issuing decrees and government regulations to amass funds through the tax-free charitable foundations which he set up and chaired.

Yushar also said his office was asking for the approval of the seizures from other district courts countrywide where Soeharto's assets are situated.

Earlier in the day, former financial minister Ali Wardhana, who served under Soeharto from 1968 to 1983, was questioned for over two hours as a witness in the case concerning the ex- president's alleged graft.

State prosecutor Suriansyah said that the questioning was aimed at clarifying Ali's role in issuing ministerial decree No. 333/1978 which obliged all state enterprises and state banks to donate five percent of their net profits to social activities carried out by two of Soeharto's foundations, Dharmais and Supersemar. The decree followed a government regulation on donation for charity activities.

The deputy head of financial affairs at the State Logistics Agency, Ruskandar, was also questioned over the regular donation of his office to Soeharto's charitable foundations Dana Karya Abadi and Dharmais.

Separately, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said that New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff told him during the latter's visit to Jakarta earlier this week of his government's willingness to help locate assets linked to Soeharto.

Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, once owned a multimillion dollar alpine lodge on New Zealand's South Island.

Marzuki said that Indonesia had also asked the Swiss and U.S. governments to help trace possible Soeharto assets in the two countries. (01/byg)