Sat, 03 Jun 2000

Sjahril questioned over scandal-linked meeting

JAKARTA (JP): Governor of the Bank Indonesia (BI) Sjahril Sabirin on Friday maintained his alibi during questioning to verify reports that he was present in a meeting linked to the Bank Bali scandal.

"I have already given my testimony, and I am consistent with my statement. I did not attend the meeting on Feb. 11 (last year)," Sjahril told journalists during a break from his questioning at the Attorney General's Office.

State prosecutors confronted Sjahril's statement with earlier testimony of former Bank Bali deputy chairman Firman Soetjahja and another witness confirming Sjahril's attendance at a rendezvous in a hotel in South Jakarta.

In the six-hour session, prosecutors grilled Sjahril with 10 questions focusing on the meeting, which led to the reimbursement from Bank Indonesia of Rp 904 billion guaranteed by the government to Bank Bali for defaulted loans. Rp 546 billion of the funds were paid to PT Era Giat Prima (EGP) for services in assisting Bank Bali to recoup the interbank loans.

EGP is owned by businessman Djoko S. Chandra and Golkar legislator Setya Novanto. Many people suspect that the money went to Golkar Party executives to help bankroll then president B.J. Habibie's renomination campaign.

The Attorney General's Office has named six suspects, including former state minister of investment and state enterprises empowerment Tanri Abeng, former Bank Bali director Rudy Ramli and former Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (BPPN) deputy chairman Pande Lubis.

Friday's questioning, the third for the central bank governor, was also aimed at determining whether Sjahril knew about the cessie agreement between Bank Bali and EGP.

"I was not aware of it until I read about it in the newspapers," Sjahril said.

He added that reimbursement of the money was finalized because it was a request from Bank Bali.

"It was a request from the one who owned the money. It was reimbursed by Bank Indonesia, because the bank's account was held by Bank Indonesia," he explained.

Sjahril also played down pressures on him to resign over the Bank Bali scandal, saying he had yet to receive an official request for his resignation. (01)