Paris, Wednesday, August 16, 2000 Indonesian Bank Chief Faces Corruption Count
JAKARTA - Indonesia's attorney-general said Tuesday that Sjahril Sabirin, the governor of the central bank, would be charged with corruption over a politically charged banking scandal and faced five years in jail if convicted. The attorney-general's office also placed an international travel ban on some private sector bankers suspected of misusing billions of dollars in government aid. Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman had already said he planned to put Mr. Sabirin on trial this month, but had not said what the charges against the central banker, who has been detained since June, would be.
''The case will be submitted to the court by the end of August,'' Mr. Darusman said Tuesday. ''There is sufficient evidence.''
''The charge is corruption, related to the Bank Bali case,'' he said. ''In theory, the punishment is around five years. But we have to prove it in the court.''
Mr. Sabirin has denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Sabirin approved a $63 million payment from the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Authority to Bank Bali PT, ostensibly to cover loans owed to it by other banks. In 1999, Bank Bali then funneled much of the money into a company linked to Golkar, then the country's governing party.
Mr. Sabirin's detention has exacerbated fears that political infighting is preventing the Indonesian government from implementing economic reforms, helping to drag the rupiah to a near-two-year low of 9,510 against the U.S. dollar in mid-July.
Mr. Sabirin was detained in June after a public feud with President Abdurrahman Wahid, prompting Bank Indonesia, the central bank, and some politicians to accuse Mr. Wahid of meddling with an institution that has its independence guaranteed by law. In Mr. Sabirin's absence, the bank's senior deputy governor, Anwar Nasution, is the acting central bank chief.
Bambang Sudibyo, Indonesia's finance minister, said Tuesday that some executives had been banned from leaving the country as the attorney-general's office begins an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars that the central bank dispersed to the banks in 1998.
''We believe they violated regulations imposed by Bank Indonesia,'' Mr. Sudibyo told reporters outside of the attorney-general's office. He declined to name executives under the ban.
Earlier this month, the State Audit Agency said that since 1998, banks that were nationalized, liquidated or frozen may have misused nearly all of 145 trillion rupiah ($17.64 billion) in emergency funds doled out by the government.
[didn't the funds doled out by the gov. come from the IMF?]