The government may revert to the controversial release and discharge policy in the settlement of obligations of delinquent bankers from the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI) program.
The government will screen BLBI debtors to select ones who should be exempt from prosecution, with priority given to those who have been diligent in returning state assets although they fled the country before their cases were processed.
The issue was discussed Monday between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Attorney General Abdulrahman Saleh, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, chief of the interdepartmental team for corruption eradication Hendarman Supandji, Corruption Eradication Commission chief Taufiequrrahman Ruki and Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin.
Under the release and discharge policy, which was criticized by non-governmental organizations and corruption watchdogs, ex-bank owners deemed cooperative in settling their debts had all criminal charges dropped against them.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said the mechanism was still under discussion because there were no means currently available to manage returned assets from troubled bankers following the disbandment of the Indonesian Banking Restructuring Agency (IBRA).
She said the government was looking into ways to process the debtors, while maximizing resources for the return of state assets, with the main involvement of financial and legal ministries.
"The coordinating minister for the economy will coordinate this," she said.
Four of the bankers came to the presidential office with National Police deputy chief of investigators Insp. Gen. Gorries Mere and National Police director for economic crime Sr. Comr. Benny Mamoto.
National Police chief Gen. Sutanto identified only two of them as Bursa and James. One of them, according to a presidential office staff source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was Lukman Hastanto, the son in law of debtor and commissioner of disbanded Bank Bira, Atang Latif, who was recently brought back to Indonesia from the United States.
"Three of them have obligations to the state of Rp 615 billion (US$66.13 million), Rp 190 billion and Rp 123 billion respectively. We expect more will follow in the coming weeks," Sutanto said.
They did not meet the President, he added, but came on their own initiative to seek ways to settle their obligations to the state. Sutanto said the debtors would be classified in several groups, including those whose banks experienced problems to mismanagement and irregularities, and institutions forced to seek Bank Indonesia support who then incurred problems.
"We will examine their respective cases. We have to be fair to those who are cooperative in settling their obligations," he said. Abdul Rahman Saleh said the government had lists of debtors who were classified as cooperative and noncooperative. He stressed the latter would be prosecuted.
"But of course we will not process again those who have been exempted from debt obligations by previous governments. Don't mix them up with the newer ones, because we cannot process them again as the public wants," he said.
A banker convicted in the BLBI scam -- David Nusa Wijaya of Bank Servitia -- was returned to Indonesia from the United States last month.
Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
February 07, 2006