Tommy Suharto to Counter-Sue over Land Scam Allegation

JAKARTA ~ The youngest son of ex-president Suharto is to counter-sue after a civil suit was lodged against him concerning a land scam, his lawyers said.

National logistics agency Bulog filed its suit on August 22 against Hutomo Mandala Putra, known as Tommy, alleging he was involved in a land exchange scam through Goro Batara Sakti (GBS), a company for which he was a commissioner.

But Tommy’s lawyers say that the suit is defamatory as he was cleared by the Supreme Court of involvement in 2001.

“Bulog has defamed my client as an Indonesian court already cleared him of criminal charges” related to the issue, lawyer Elza Sharief told reporters on Wednesday.

Tommy was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in 2000 in connection with a land swap in which GBS acquired prime land owned by Bulog in return for swampy land in North Jakarta.

The conviction was the first handed out to a member of former president Suharto’s family for corruption.

But Tommy escaped and the case was overturned. He was eventually caught and jailed for ordering the murder of the judge who had convicted him. The renowned playboy was freed last year after serving just a third of his 15-year jail sentence.

His lawyers also allege that Bulog’s move was launched as part of a deal made by Indonesian prosecutors with a court in Guernsey in Britain, which has led to millions of euros of Tommy’s money being frozen at Jakarta’s request.

“This is an engineered move by Bulog because the next day after they filed the suit, they sent a copy of it to the court in Guernsey,” Sharief said.

She said that Tommy was seeking about Rp1 trillion (US$106.38 million) in damages from Bulog.

That is approximately the amount of Tommy’s money being withheld by a branch of BNP Paribas on Guernsey due to uncertainty over how the funds were obtained. Jakarta is a third party in the case.

Tommy Suharto is also currently a suspect in a separate criminal case that involves a state monopoly he used to head.

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