Tue, 14 May 2002

Something's wrong with Raudlatul Jannah

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Witnesses confirmed on Monday irregularities found in the establishment of Raudlatul Jannah, an Islamic foundation appointed to organize a fictitious charity project in 1999.

Most of the eight witnesses testified before the panel of judges, which tried the three defendants in the Rp 40 billion (US$4 million) corruption scandal involving funds of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog). They were Golkar Party chairman Akbar Tandjung, the Foundation's chairman Dadang Sukandar and Winfried Simatupang, a contractor hired for the project. The witnesses testified that unusual procedures were found in the processing of documents for the establishment of the foundation.

Public Notary Kartono told the Central Jakarta District Court judges that he had certified the foundation's notarial document on Dec. 10, 1997, when he still resided in Subang, West Java, while the office of the foundation and the residences of all of its 10 founding members were located in Jakarta.

He said the foundation had started with merely Rp 10 million of capital with a mission "to help the government in social affairs, such as donating aid to people suffering from natural disasters or to help build mosques". The foundation was granted the authority to disburse Rp 40 billion-worth of government- sponsored funds in the social safety net (JPS) program.

On April 4, 2001, Dadang -- then Kartono's colleague in the Bangun Cipta real estate developer -- witnessed the changing of a document based on the results of a meeting at which most members of the foundation's board of management had resigned.

But head of Petojo Selatan subdistrict in Central Jakarta Nur Zein denied that the meeting, held at his office, had discussed the change of the foundation's name or the resignation of the board's members.

The panel of judges also questioned the credibility of the foundation's vice chairman, the late Dadi Suryadi, who was assigned to become the project's chief officer.

Other witnesses, including Dadi's brother Supriyanto, said the so-called chief project officer was a driver for a reputable Jakarta-based taxi company and was never known to have been involved in other activities, including being a member of the foundation.

The witnesses also said that it was Akbar who had appointed the foundation to run the project after listening to Dadang and Winfried's presentation at his office.

The judges adjourned the trial until next Monday, saying that former president B.J. Habibie, who had given instructions for the implementation of the social project, was scheduled to testify in court as a witness.