Tuesday, July 10, 2007

RI asks Australia to extradite BLBI fugitives in hiding

Saturday, June 30, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia's Attorney General's Office is waiting for the Australian government to process the extradition of two Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI) debtors believed to be hiding in Australia.

"We have formally asked (Australia) to help through diplomatic channels," Indonesia's Deputy Attorney General Muchtar Arifin said Friday.

"We have met all requirements for extradition, but maybe they are still processing the papers."

As chairman of an Indonesian corruption hunting team formed by the AGO, Muchtar said the Australian government had taken the necessary steps to "prevent the fugitives hiding assets in Australia before their extradition took place".

During a hearing with the law commission of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Indonesia's Attorney General Hendarman Supandji said the government "had requested the extradition of the two fugitives Eko Edi Putranto and Andrian Kiki Iriawan in December 2006".

Muchtar said, "Anything is possible, but we have established continuing coordination to assure that they (Australian government) will take all preventive measures possible".

"Up until now we have had a good relationship.

"We hope that the process will be immediate, but we have to understand that it could take time," he said.

The corruption hunting team had also started to track the movement of all BLBI debtors' assets in Hong Kong, Switzerland, Singapore and the Philippines.

Switzerland's attorney general had frozen several accounts, including a US$9.9 million account belonging to Irawan Salim.

Hendarman said the AGO would prioritize the three largest outstanding BLBI cases.

There are currently nine outstanding cases but it is not clear where the two cases attached to Australia sit in terms of priority.

Hendarman refused to disclose details of the three largest cases but promised to reveal more to the public before the AGO's anniversary on July 22.

The AGO has formed a special team of 35 attorneys to investigate corruption cases involving BLBI funds debtors.

The team, which is directly led by Muchtar, is made up of two smaller teams, one for execution and one for examination.

BLBI funds were established by then-president Soeharto when the Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia in mid 1997.

The funds were aimed to keep unhealthy local banks afloat in the wake of the massive withdrawal of foreign capital from the country.

During that crisis, the government disbursed some Rp 145 trillion (US$16 billion) to 48 banks.

However, many debtors abused the program and stole money.

Data from the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) shows until the end of 2006 that of the 65 people being questioned by the AGO for the BLBI case, 16 had been brought to court, but only one had gone to prison.

Two further suspects were convicted, but their sentence was suspended. Nine have fled the country. (02)

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