Prosecutors in the Jungle

THEY are called the team of prosecuting attorneys in charge of the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) case. From here, it is clear what the special target of the team formed by the Attorney General’s Office are. They are the country’s top problem debtors, black tycoons who were able to settle their debts with help from the central bank, or in other words state money—valued at hundreds of billions or even trillions of rupiah.

Today, the team comprising 35 prosecuting attorneys is being readied. “The target is to ensure that by July 22 they will have been formed,” said Secretary to the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, Kemas Yahya Rahman, last Thursday. On that day, which coincided with the Attorney General’s birthday, Kemas Rahman had pocketed 75 names of prospective members before the final selection. They come from various areas, with some from the AGO. “Right now, we are selecting from among the deputy attorneys general,” said Kemas Rahman.

Place of work is not an issue. The team will use space once occupied by the Team to Eradicate Crimes of Corruption (Timtas Tipikor). That team, led by Hendarman Supandji, the current Attorney General, was disbanded June 11 after operating for two years. This BLBI team is different from its predecessor, both with regards to its tasks and its personnel. The previous one was a combination of prosecuting attorneys, the police, Finance Development Controller, and other agencies. “This team is purely from the AGO,” said spokesperson Salman Maryadi.

According to Salman, the team will later be broken down further into two groups: Rurik (Investigating Group) and Rudak (Action Group). The former is tasked with reviewing all BLBI case documents, from those at the initial stage to those who have received the paid-in-full letters (SKL). While the latter is focused on hunting down defendants or indicted figures who fled and failed to return their assets.

Besides preparing the team, said Kemas Yahya Rahman, the AGO has started re-examining all BLBI case documents. “Including those who have received SKLs,” said he. With such scrutiny, by July 22 the AGO is expected to come up with a list of names of BLBI cases that will be investigated. “Afterwards, action,” said Kemas Yahya Rahman.

SKL cases will be handled differently. Its policy will not be questioned. What will be examined is whether or not it was issued based on proper considerations. For example, whether the asset value ceded to the state was in accordance with regulations. “If there are debtors who handed over assets that were not in accordance with the real situation, these are what we’re after,” he said.

The team’s task should not be understated. “The establishment of the special team is to ensure the prosecutors are focused on the BLBI issue alone,” said Salman Maryadi. To guarantee that the team works well, integrity will be the main criteria in selecting potential team members. Attorney General Hendarman Supandji in an interview stated: “Handling the BLBI case is like entering a jungle full of memedis (spirits).” That was why the team had to comprise strong and fearless prosecutors and attorneys.

Based on Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) data, there are many unfinished BLBI cases. Until the end of 2006, ICW recorded 65 people who had been examined in connection with BLBI cases. Of the total, only 16 had been taken to court. The remainder, including seven suspects, are still undergoing questioning and 31 other cases are under investigation. “What’s of more concern is that the examination of 11 suspects was stopped by the AGO,” said ICW Coordinator on Justice Monitoring, Emerson Yuntho.

Emerson agreed with the AGO’s plan of reopening the case of debtors who received the paid-in-full letters. According to ICW’s records, there were 22 debtors who received the policy that was based on Presidential Instruction No. 8/2002 regarding the issuance of release-and-discharge document. “Actually, it’s been proven that false assets were handed over to the government,” he said.

In 2003, ICW sued the AGO to have a material test done on Presidential Instruction No. 8/2002. It was rejected. The Supreme Court maintained that presidential instructions are not laws; consequently, they were not objects for testing. “That is a matter of policy,” said Emerson, citing the Supreme Court’s reasons. ICW received the final verdict at the beginning of the month.

This is why Emerson recommends that the government seriously handle this matter. According to ICW, there have been no new developments on the BLBI cases so far, or it may have even stopped during the tenure of the current presidency. If the government is really intent on re-investigating the cases, said Emerson, do not make it just a project to improve the government’s image.

Abdul Manan, Sandy I. Pratama

Tempo Magazine, No. 43/VII/June 26 – July 02, 2007

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