03/03/2010

KPK Questions Former SOE Minister Over Bank Century Accounts

Jakarta, Jakarta Globe - The Corruption Eradication Commission on Tuesday summoned Sofyan Djalil, a former state enterprises minister, over accounts that several state companies had at the former Bank Century.


Members of the House of Representatives special committee investigating the controversial Rp 6.7 trillion ($723 million) government bailout of Bank Century said last month that at least 15 state-owned companies had deposited a total of Rp 412 billion at the bank, since renamed PT Bank Mutiara.

Sofyan said he had no knowledge that state-owned companies had accounts at the ailing lender until a teleconference meeting with Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati on Nov. 12, 2008.

"I didn’t ask the state-owned companies to put their money in the bank," Sofyan said at the headquarters of the antigraft body, known as the KPK. "Until the meeting I didn’t even know that the companies had accounts there. I was very surprised to learn that."

Representatives of state insurance company PT Jamsostek, state construction firm PT Wijaya Karya, state telecommunications company PT Telkom and military pension fund PT Asabri all told the House special committee that they had accounts at Bank Century.

However, with the exception of Jamsostek, the other companies had closed their accounts before the bailout was initiated. Only Jamsostek still had money in Bank Century, about Rp 8.7 billion, at the time of the 2008 bailout.

The state insurance company opened an account, worth Rp 293 billion, in 2004 at Bank CIC. Bank CIC, Bank Pikko and Bank Danpac were merged by the government to form Bank Century later that year.

In November and December 2008, the companies withdrew most of their money, reportedly defying a request by Sri Mulyani.

"She was afraid that it would create a run on the bank and requested that the money stay put at Bank Century," Sofyan said.

"State-owned companies were given independence to manage their money. As minister, I didn’t have to know about it. I advised them to keep their money in the bank because it was insured by the LPS [Deposit Insurance Agency]. But the companies withdrew their funds anyway."

Several factions on the House committee have deemed the Bank Century bailout as illegal. Documents from the House’s probe were submitted to the KPK, which has used them as part of its own investigation.

The KPK has promised a wide-ranging investigation into the bailout, saying it would not limit its focus to Vice President Boediono, who was central bank governor at the time of the bailout, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. The two have been named by several House factions as being responsible for what they call the illegal bailout.

The KPK is investigating indications of corruption based on a report from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). The agency cited nine irregularities starting with the merger to form Bank Century, the monitoring of the bank, the decision to bail out the lender and the alleged misappropriation of bailout funds.

The House is scheduled to deliver its final conclusions on the bailout today.

(Nivell Rayda)
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