No More Palace Visits

The KPK arrests the Bank Indonesia Governor.

THE world has rapidly changed for Burhanuddin Abdullah, 61. From his vast office in the heart of Jakarta, now this Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor has to share a cell with another inmate at the police detention center. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) held him as a suspect in the misappropriation of central bank money on Thursday last week.

During his first day in detention, he was visited by colleagues. He was talking with scores of batik-dressed men when Tempo came into the detention house’s front porch where he received the guests. Wearing a brown-collared T-shirt, he, as always, was full of smiles. A few more people arrived. One of them hugged Burhanuddin tightly.

When Tempo asked him how he was soon after his guests were gone, he replied he was doing fine. But he chose to keep mum when asked to comment on the case implicating him. “I don’t want to comment first,” he said, returning to his cell.

The KPK has been investigating this case since late 2006 after receiving a report from Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) Chairman Anwar Nasution. The report reveals an alleged misuse by the BI board of directors of funds belonging to the Indonesian Banking Development Foundation. The central bank’s top officials were questioned one after another as a result.

In the probe, the KPK discovered a disbursement of Rp127.8 billion: Rp96.3 billion for legal assistance to a number of former BI officials, while the remainder was used to pay for “dissemination costs.” It is this money that went to a number of House of Representatives (DPR) members to pay for the amendments to the Bank Indonesia Law.

Several central bank officials involved in the case are former Governor Soedradjad Djiwandono, Deputy Governor Iwan R. Prawiranata, as well as three directors: Heru Supratomo, Hendro Budiyanto, and Paul Sutopo. Some of the money going to these five individuals reportedly also went to the police, prosecutor, and the judge.

This cash flow was decided by a number of meetings of the BI Governors’ Council throughout 2003. A document obtained by Tempo shows that the first Council meeting was held on June 3, 2003. This meeting, attended by Burhanuddin Abdullah, Aulia Pohan, Bunbunan Hutapea, Aslim Tadjudin, and Roswita Roza, asked the Supervisory Board of the Banking Development Foundation to pay for BI’s incidental or urgent activities.

The next July 22 meeting agreed to form a Committee for Social Community Development in order to manage a fund of Rp100 billion from the Development Foundation. The Social Community Development Committee was headed by Rusli Simanjuntak with Oey Hoey Tiong as deputy head. It was discovered later that the money for legal assistance was paid through Oey, the dissemination money through Rusli.

The KPK split three assignments to deal with the case: financial misappropriation by the central bank board of directors; alleged disbursement of money to DPR members; and suspected transfer of money to law enforcement officials. The summons of dozens of witnesses started to yield some good results.

On January 25, the KPK named Burhanuddin Abdullah, Rusli Simanjuntak, and Oey Hoey Tiong as suspects. “Misuse of BI money,” said Chandra M. Hamzah, Deputy Chairman of the KPK’s Prosecution Section, when determining the names of the suspects. A few days later, the KPK sent Rusli Simanjuntak to the Kelapa Dua Police Mobile Brigade detention house and Oey Hoey Tiong to the Jakarta Metro Police detention house.

Some circles questioned the fact that Burhanuddin himself was not held. “Pak Burhan is cooperative. Besides, detention is not obligatory,” said Burhanuddin’s lawyer Mohammad Assegaf. Johan Budi S.P., KPK spokesman, said detention is subject to the investigator’s consideration.

In this particular case, said Assegaf, his client is charged with an attempt to enrich himself or others and with abusing his authority, thus causing the state to suffer financial losses. The maximum punishment is 20 years in prison and a fine of Rp1 billion. Assegaf questions the use of the penal code’s corruption article, since his client has simply carried out the decision of the BI Governors’ Council meetings.

He also questions the fact that the burden of guilt is placed only on Burhanuddin, “Considering that the decision is made by the Governors’ Council, not the decision made by the Governor,” argued Assegaf.

This statement also rebutted the report of former 2003 BI Deputy Governor Aulia Pohan who said that the Governor is responsible for the decision even though it is made by a meeting of the Council. “No responsibility is collegial in nature. This applies only to decision making,” Aulia told Tempo.

Assegaf contested Aulia’s defense. Quoting the Bank Indonesia Law, he opines that no decision can be made if a Governors’ Council member disagrees, meaning that everybody was unanimous when the decision was made on May 3 and July 22, 2003.

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IT is not that Burhanuddin did not suspect his future detention. He told his lawyers he was ready to go to prison. This Garut, West Java-born man saw that two of his men, Rusli Simanjuntak and Oey Hoey Tiong, were already in detention. “It’s just a matter of time,” said Amir Syamsuddin.

On a Thursday morning prior to the questioning, Assegaf conveyed an invitation to Burhanuddin to the investigating officer. The invitation from the Cabinet Secretary invited Burhanuddin to accompany President Yudhoyono when receiving former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday afternoon. The investigator said he would convey the matter to his superior.

Assegaf hoped that the request would again be granted. Late in March, Burhanuddin was also invited to the Palace to give suggestions on the people to replace him. Two names, Agus Martowardojo and Raden Pardede, proposed to the DPR were rejected. Prior to the questioning, Assegaf conveyed the invitation to the investigator. It received a positive reply. Starting at around 10am, the questioning ended less than four hours later. Burhanuddin was able to hasten to the State Palace.

But, this time the investigator asked Burhanuddin whether he could be represented. Burhanuddin checked the Palace protocol and was told he could be represented. So Burhan chose to go on with the questioning. “Yes, we’ll just get the matter done,” said Assegaf quoting Burhanuddin. Upon completion, he planned to go to the Palace.

It turned out the matter was not done. Nearing 2pm, the investigator produced a letter. “Sir, you are under arrest. Here’s the arrest warrant,” said the investigating officer. According to Assegaf, Burhanuddin appeared shocked but he did not try to argue. “He signed it right away,” he said.

Thereafter Burhanuddin, wearing a suit, was taken directly to National Police HQ where he was placed in a cell with Indra Setiawan, former Garuda CEO who is a suspect in the case of the murder of human rights activist Munir.

In the afternoon following Burhanuddin’s detention, his colleagues started showing their sympathy. Visitors were endless until the next day. To one of his visitors Friday last week, he said he was unable to take a rest. “I slept for only an hour,” he said.

Abdul Manan, Sunudyantoro, Yugha Erlangga

Tempo Magazine, No. 33/VIII/15-21 April, 2008

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