Monday, February 20, 2006

Court acquits Mandiri directors

South Jakarta District Court acquits former Bank Mandiri directors (ECW Neloe, I Wayan Pugeg, and Soleh Tasripin) from corruption charges.
Judges said in their verdict today that no evidence that could proof that the suspects have put the state at loss with their policies to disburse Rp150 billion loans to PT CGN.
"The defendants ... were not proven legally and convincingly to have carried out graft. The court acquits the defendants from all charges given by the prosecutors and orders their release," chief judge Gatot Suharnoto told the South Jakarta court as quoted by The Jakarta
Lawyers for the three have said the defendants did nothing wrong and previously insisted the case be dismissed. The men have appeared together in each trial session.
It was unclear if prosecutors would appeal. Their sentencing demand had been high by Indonesian standards, where courts often hand down jail terms of less than 10 years for graft despite Yudhoyono's pledges to get tough.
Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh expressed his upset over the verdict. He said AGO would appeal and expects higher court and Supreme Court would punish the suspects more severely.
Judicial Commission which is in conflict with Supreme Court stunned with the verdict and will investigate the judges. But some observers warned that the verdict might reflect the weaknesses of prosecutors.
ECW “Eddie” Neloe (photo with the tie, courtesy of Media Indonesia), Mandiri’s former president and chief executive, and the two other executives were detained in May amid a wide-ranging investigation by prosecutors into up to $1.2bn in loans extended by Mandiri.
Mr Neloe once Indonesia’s most powerful banker and as a result his trial is expected to be a high-profile test of the ability of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to wage a promised war against Indonesia’s endemic corruption. He had close relationship with former president Megawati Soekarnoputri and Abdurrahman Wahid.
Prior to the verdict, Wahid vowed to judges to make fair judgements on the former Mandiri directors.
Bank Mandiri was formed in 1999 out of four state banks that collapsed as a result of the Asian financial crisis. It is Indonesia’s largest bank by assets and was the subject of a heavily oversubscribed initial public offering in 2003 that was at the time hailed as a sign of renewed confidence in the country’s banking sector.




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