Tue, 23 May 2000

Sjahril denies involvement in Bank Bali scandal

JAKARTA (JP): Bank Indonesia Governor Sjahril Sabirin denied on Monday that he attended a Feb. 11, 1999 meeting which discussed measures to accelerate Bank Bali's loan disbursement from the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).

Sjahril, who testified at the trial of Djoko S. Tjandra, the main defendant in the high profile Bank Bali scandal, said he learned of the meeting, which was also attended by some senior government officials, only after the media published details about it.

"I didn't know about the Feb. 11, 1999 meeting and I was not present at it either," he told a hearing at the South Jakarta District Court, presided over by judge Soedarto.

Sjahril also denied having any knowledge about the defendant.

"No, I do not know Djoko S. Tjandra," he said.

Some 30 people attended the five-hour hearing, which began at 10 a.m., including Djoko's lawyers O.C. Kaligis and Y.B. Purwaning, and prosecutor Ridwan Moekiat.

Sjahril said the central bank did not have the authority to disburse the loan.

"It's the responsibility of IBRA. The central bank only made a recommendation to IBRA about whether it was legally possible to disburse the loan," he said.

Sjahril's testimony was contradictory to the prosecutor's indictment against the defendant, which stipulated that Sjahril attended a meeting at Hotel Mulia in Central Jakarta on Feb. 11 last year.

The meeting was also attended by then state minister of investment and state enterprises development Tanri Abeng, IBRA's deputy chairman Pande Lubis, then Supreme Advisory Council chairman A.A. Baramuli, an executive of PT Era Giat Prima (PT EGP), Setya Novanto, a Bank Bali executive, Firman Soetjahja, and Djoko S. Tjandra, who is also an executive of PT EGP.

The indictment said the meeting was held after the central bank rejected the Bank Bali request to allow IBRA to disburse the loan.

The Feb. 11 meeting recommended that Bank Bali write a letter to persuade IBRA's chairman to assist the bank to recover its interbank loans which amounted to Rp 904 billion (US$108.9 million).

Three private banks -- Bank Tiara, Bank BDNI and Bank Umum Nasional -- borrowed a total of Rp 904 billion from Bank Bali, but they were unable to repay the loans until they were closed down by the central bank due to their poor financial record in late 1998.

Bank Bali's then president director Rudi Ramli made a cessie agreement with PT EGP to assist the bank in recouping the loan in January last year.

Monday's hearing also heard testimonies from Rudy Ramli and two IBRA officials, Toto Suparto and Indra Sunyoto.

The hearing was adjourned until Thursday to again hear testimony from Rudy. (asa)