Sat, 27 Mar 1999

Winters wants Ghalib to pursue Freeport probe

JAKARTA (JP): American scholar Jeffrey Winters called on Attorney General Andi M. Ghalib on Friday to pursue investigations into alleged corruption in mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia.

Winters, an associate professor at the Northwestern University in Chicago, was questioned for more than three hours at the Attorney General's Office over his accusation of corrupt practices in the company.

"The investigation was started by an external party, so it is actually the duty of the Attorney General's Office to continue the investigation," Winters said after the questioning.

He was accompanied by his lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis.

Winters alleged last October that Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry Ginandjar Kartasasmita, while serving as minister of mines and energy, had profited handsomely from the renewal of Freeport's contract of work.

Lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who accompanied Winters, said the only thing his client said in October was that "the renewal of Freeport's contract of work raised questions".

Winters left for the United States shortly after the questioning.

"Everything went smoothly at the airport because Winters is not included on the list of people barred from leaving the country," Todung told The Jakarta Post.

Winters, who arrived here on Sunday to launch the Indonesian translations of his books Power In Motion and The New Order's Political Sins, said earlier that he had based his allegations on material provided by the research group Econit, which is headed by noted economist Rizal Ramli.

Ginandjar, however, denied the allegations and provided the Attorney General's Office with information to contradict the claim. Chief executive officer of U.S. Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold. Inc., James Moffett, who was questioned by the Attorney General's Office in November, also denied the allegations.

The allegations concern the sales of some 10 percent of Freeport shares to the Bakrie Group in 1991.

Leading human rights campaigner Marzuki Darusman rebuked the police on Wednesday for naming Winters as a suspect. He said the public would begin to question whether there was truth in Winters' statement and Ginandjar would be adversely affected.

Separately, Teten Masduki of Indonesian Corruption Watch said on Wednesday that naming Winters a suspect would make the public fearful to uncover corrupt practices.

"The move against Winters is only to divert public attention from the alleged corruption in Freeport," Teten said. (byg)