Tommy Suharto Seeks Access to Frozen UK Funds

JAKARTA ~ Tommy Suharto, son of the former president, plans to appeal a Guernsey court decision to extend a freeze on his money allegedly hidden there at the request of Indonesia, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Hutomo Mandala Putra, also known as Tommy Suharto, met with his lawyers in Jakarta on Wednesday evening and decided to appeal the May 23 court’s decision to extend the freeze on millions of dollars for another six months.

“I have met with Tommy and (representatives from his company) Garnet last night and we decided to appeal the court’s decision,” Tommy’s lawyer, O.C. Kaligis, said.

“We decided to appeal because there is no reason for them to keep holding the money – there is no proof that the money was obtained corruptly,” said Kaligis.

Tommy’s Garnet Investment, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, was suing a branch of BNP Paribas on Guernsey, a British crown dependency off the northern French coast, to release the money.

The bank is reportedly refusing to release at least 36 million euros (US$46.7 million) and perhaps as much as 75 million euros from its account as it believes the funds were questionably obtained.

Indonesia believes the money was corruptly earned and belongs to the republic. The Guernsey court earlier this year approved Jakarta’s bid to become a third party in the case.

Tommy’s lawyer in England, Christopher Edward, had been instructed to file the appeal on Thursday, Kaligis added.

An amateur racing driver who reveled in a flamboyant playboy lifestyle, Tommy, 44, remains the enduring symbol of the corruption that plagued his father’s rule of Indonesia, which ended in 1998.

He was freed from prison in October 2006 after serving just a third of a 15-year jail term for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge.

After 32 years in power, Tommy’s father stepped down in 1998 amid a severe economic crisis and massive civil unrest.

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