Sun, Aug 31, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Indonesia seizes millions from Suharto son’s firm


Indonesia has seized millions of dollars from a firm linked to Suharto’s youngest son, reports said yesterday, in the latest move to bring the ex-dictator’s family to account for alleged graft.

The finance ministry ordered Bank Mandiri to hand over 1.23 trillion rupiah (US$134 million) belonging to Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra’s now-defunct car company, Timor Putra Nasional, the Jakarta Post daily reported.

“[The seizure] is an effort to help secure state assets,” Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

The move comes amid a protracted legal battle over alleged graft involving the car company, which was granted exclusive rights during Suharto’s reign to import South Korean cars and rebadge them as Indonesia’s national car.

The ministry has launched a civil graft case alleging Tommy illegally sold assets from Timor to five of his companies at a discount to avoid paying off state loans made to the troubled car importer during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The late dictator’s son has filed a countersuit against the ministry, accusing it of pursuing the US$440 million case to justify a freeze on his assets in Guernsey off the French coast.

The countersuit is seeking US$21.8 million in compensation and a public apology.

Tommy enjoyed favored access to business deals during the heady years of crony capitalism before the financial crisis and his father’s 1998 fall. He fought off a separate US$61 million civil corruption case against him in February.

One of six children, he also served less than one-third of a 15-year jail term for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge in July 2002. He was released in October 2006.

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