Tommy Suharto Questioned

JAKARTA ~ The youngest son of former president Suharto appeared at the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday to be quizzed as a suspect in a multimillion-dollar graft case over a state monopoly he led.

Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra, who headed the country’s Clove Monopoly Board (BPPC) in the 1990s, is accused of receiving cash from the central bank intended for farmers and using it for other purposes.

“My summons today is over a criminal case of corruption, the misuse of Bank Indonesia liquidity assistance by the executives of BPPC at the time,” he told journalists shortly before his questioning.

But Tommy said that the debt from the bank had been resettled.

BPPC controlled domestic sales and exports of cloves, which are widely used by the country’s large cigarette industry.

Tommy said that BPPC management borrowed a total of Rp759 billion in 1992-1993, Rp569 billion of which was in the form of liquidity assistance from the central Bank Indonesia.

The rest was from commercial loans, he added.

Suharto and his family are accused of amassing up to US$35 billion in corrupt funds during the president’s 32-year rule. The former president stepped down in 1998 amid a severe economic crisis and massive civil unrest.

Tommy was freed from prison in October 2006 after serving just a third of a 15-year jail sentence for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had convicted him of corruption.

Speaking on Thursday, he claimed that BBPC no longer owed money to the central bank since it had converted it to debt owing to the then-state-owned Bank Bumi Daya (BBD) in 1993.

“This is proven by a letter from Bank Indonesia that declared the matter of Bank Indonesia liquidity assistance as having been settled by BBD,” he said.

The letter, dated October 27, 1993, was read out by one of Tommy’s minders and stated that the BBD had fully paid back the Rp569 billion.

The suit is part of a deal made by Indonesia with a court in Guernsey in Britain that extended a freeze on millions of euros of Tommy’s money in May.

Tommy is currently appealing the decision, made at Indonesia’s request.

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