Prosecutors Seek $59m from Tommy Suharto

JAKARTA ~ State prosecutors said this week they were seeking US$59 million from the son of former president Suharto in stolen assets, damages and interest in a civil suit related to a land scam.

The case being brought by the government against Hutomo Mandala Putra Suharto, known as Tommy, is seen as part of revived efforts to bring the Suharto clan to account, though analysts have expressed scepticism at the likelihood of its success.

Tommy is accused of overseeing a land swap when he was president of company Goro Batara Sakti (GBS), with the national logistics agency Bulog, in the 1990s. Bulog received a worthless swamp in return for a prime piece of commercial land that GBS built a hyperstore on.

“The plaintiff suffered material losses of Rp244.2 billion ($26 million) and immaterial damages of Rp100 billion,” said state prosecutor Yoseph Suardi Sabda, reading an indictment at the trial, which opened after mediation between the two sides failed.

The government was also seeking additional damages of Rp206.5 billion, the amount in lost interest that would have been earned on the other losses, he added.

The prosecution also asked that the court “seize Tommy’s money at BNP Paribas bank on Guernsey (an island off England) as a guarantee of assets in this case,” Sabda said.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported on Monday prosecutors were seeking his imprisonment if convicted.

Another GBS executive, Ricardo Gelael, is also being sued over the case, along with the former chairman of Bulog.

Tommy was sentenced to 18 months’ jail and fined Rp30 billion in 2000 for the transaction, making him the first Suharto to be convicted of corruption.

However, he went on the run after he tried and failed to win a presidential pardon. The conviction was later overturned, but he was jailed two years later for ordering the slaying of a Supreme Court judge who had convicted him in the land swap case.

Tommy’s lawyers have insisted that their client cannot be found guilty as his conviction related to the case was overturned.

Tommy was freed last year after serving a third of his 15-year sentence for the killing.

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