Aulia Gets Four and a Half Years for Graft

By webadmin on 12:36 am Jun 18, 2009
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Nivell Rayda

The Anti-Corruption Court on Wednesday sentenced former Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Aulia Pohan to four and a half years in prison over the misuse of Rp 100 billion ($9.83 million) from an affiliated central bank foundation in 2003.

Aulia, an in-law of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was on trial with three other former deputies — Maman Soemantri, Bunbunan Hutapea and Aslim Tadjuddin. Maman received the same prison term, while Bunbunan and Aslim got four years jail each.

The defendants appeared impassive as the decision was announced. About 50 of their family and friends attended, but Aulia’s wife and daughter were noticeably absent. “I’m accompanied by angels,” Aulia told reporters before the session. “Can’t you see them?”

After the verdict, obviously annoyed by the hoard of reporters and photographers mobbing him, Aulia dodged questions, saying, “I have suffered enough, please no more questions.”

Judge Kresna Menon, who presided at the court, ruled that the four had collaborated with former Bank Indonesia Governor Burhanuddin Abdullah, now serving a five-and-a-half-year prison term, to embezzle money from the Indonesian Banking Development Foundation.

The court ruled that Aulia and Maman, who were also members of the foundation’s advisory board, had instructed the foundation to disburse the funds.

All four defendants appealed. Prosecutors had recommended four-year jail sentences for Aulia and Maman.

Amir Karyatin, the coordinating lawyer for the four defendants, said that the court should free his clients. “The ruling is an exact replica of the prosecutors’ argument. So the decision is a bit one-sided,” he said.

The conviction brings the total number of people jailed for the case to nine, including two former Golkar lawmakers — Anthony Zeidra Abidin and Hamka Yandhu — who got four and a half and three years in prison, respectively.

An entire House of Representatives commission was also implicated in the case and Indonesia Corruption Watch has demanded that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigate the case further.

The court has been told that Rp 31.5 billion of the money went to the 51 members of the House financial commission to seek a favorable amendment to the Central Bank Law and an endorsement in a dispute with the Ministry of Finance over the return of the BI bailout funds, known as BLBI, that had been injected in ailing banks at the height of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

The rest was channeled to former BI Governor Soedradjad Djiwandono and four of his deputies as “legal assistance” as they were facing charges of misappropriating the BLBI fund.

“We want the KPK to declare lawmakers who received the bribe money as suspects, starting with the two former lawmakers who are currently ministers,” said Emerson Yuntho, ICW coordinator for legal and judiciary affairs.

He was referring to Minister of National Development Planning Paskah Suzetta, who as a Golkar lawmaker at the time allegedly received Rp 1 billion, and Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban, then a lawmaker from the Star Crescent Party (PBB), who supposedly received Rp 300 million.

Political analyst Kevin O’Rourke said the verdict would not significantly reinforce Yudhoyono’s image as a corruption fighter, while Emerson said the president should either order his party members to expedite the deliberation of the antigraft court bill, or issue a regulation in lieu of law. The long-dragging debate over the draft bill is threatening the existence of the Anti-Corruption Court, which needs a solid legal basis before Dec. 19 for it to continue to exist.