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Hunting Corruptors' Money

Two bank accounts in the names of Indonesian corruptors are known to be with banks in Switzerland and Hong Kong. Similar information has also come from Portugal and Australia.

IT all began with a letter from Switzerland addressed to the Attorney General of Indonesia. It bore notice about a bank account owned by an Indonesian citizen containing an extremely large sum suspected of originating from corrupt activities. In acting on the information, the attorney general asked that the account be blocked and promptly dispatched a team to take care of it.

Thus, from September 14 through 18, the Corruptors' Assets Hunting Team, usually referred to as the Corruptors Hunting Team, hurried to Switzerland and Hong Kong, where the information originated. Indeed, the team found the accounts of two known Indonesian corruptors in the two countries.

However, although the places where the treasures were being kept had been found, Basrief Arief, the team's chairman, has not been able yet to determine the amounts of cash deposited in the two banks. "What is clear is that they run into the millions of US dollars," he told Tempo.

The Basrief team was formed by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, & Security Affairs, Widodo A.S., on December 9, 2004, coinciding with World Anti-Corruption Day. Its members have been sourced from various government departments.

The Financial Transactions Report & Analysis Center (PPATK) is one of those institutions that have contributed a great deal to the success of the Corruptors Hunting Team. The PPATK has established links with institutions of the same kind in more than 100 countries to trace assets of corruptors being hunted by the Basrief Arief team. According to PPATK Chairman Yunus Husen, it was from those foreign institutions that the existence of accounts in the name of corruptors cited in the AGO's wanted list came to be known.

Zulkarnaen Yunus, one of the team's members, confided to Tempo that information about the existence of one of the accounts had also been received from the Australian government. Zulkarnaen said Australia reported that assets of Hendra Rahardja, former owner of Bank Harapan Sentosa, had been transferred to Hong Kong in the name of his son. Australia has asked that the assets be frozen. "Australia can ask for the accounts to be frozen, because that country has a mutual legal assistance treaty with Hong Kong," said Zulkarnaen.

In Hong Kong, the Basrief Arief team met with police and prosecution officials as well as with the Minister of Justice. Hong Kong is prepared to provide legal advice for the repatriation of Rahardja's assets, which are worth US$9.3 million. "However, they ask Indonesia to submit an official request to that effect along the lines of the Hong Kong administration's system for tracing corruptors' assets," said Basrief.

The Corruptors Hunting Team also used its presence in Hong Kong to continue testing the ground for a possible mutual legal assistance treaty. Thus far, Indonesia and Hong Kong have only signed off on an extradition treaty, which was finalized in 2001. An extradition treaty concerns repatriating people. It is different from a mutual legal assistance agreement in that the latter also covers issues about gains obtained from crimes as well as ways to return assets.

Hong Kong has already forwarded a draft for a treaty on mutual legal assistance to Indonesia. "We hope that the discussion of the draft can be started soon, with a view to speeding up the repatriation of Hendra's assets which already have been frozen there," said Zulkarnaen.

From Hong Kong, Basrief's team went to Switzerland. There they found accounts in the name of two corruptors who had come from Indonesia. "The accounts have been blocked since July," said Basrief. One of those accounts is believed to be the property of Global Bank President Director, Irawan Salim, worth Rp500 billion.

The Swiss government has stated its readiness to help Indonesia retrieve the assets of corruptors. "They will help us in gaining back the assets on the basis of the principle of good mutual relations between the two countries," said Zulkarnaen.

While ready to assist, Zulkarnen said, both Hong Kong and Switzerland set a number of conditions. The Hong Kong Police, for one, ask a share of 20 percent to defray administrative costs. "We object to that request as we reason that those are not assets gained from narcotics, but state assets obtained through corrupt acts," explained Basrief. The Hong Kong Police thereupon said that they would discuss the matter with their Department of Justice.

In the view of international law expert Hikmananto Juwana, a request such as the one made by the Hong Kong Police is common. "There is a stipulation that the country of origin will also get a share," he noted. A lecturer at University of Indonesia's law faculty, Juwana explained that such matters are laid down in the 2003 United Nations Convention on Combating Corruption.

Abdul Manan, Dian Yuliastuti, L.R. Baskoro

TEMPO, OCTOBER 10, 2005-005/P. 45 Heading Law

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