Headlines

House battle over Century
gets messier

The political battle surrounding the Bank Century case has become more fiery, with a slew of counter allegations emerging against politicians opposing the bailout.

On Monday, reports suggested Emir Moeis of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) made several suspicious transaction with the bank.

A member of the parliamentary committee investigating the bailout, Ruhut Sitompul of the Democratic Party, demanded the PDI-P clarify the issue as soon as possible.

“So that we stop seeing incidents where ‘the pot is calling the kettle black’,” Ruhut said in Jakarta on Monday.

At a press conference at the PDI-P office in the House of Representatives complex, Emir said he had made several transactions with the bank, but that none were illegal.

Emir said none of the transactions had any connection with the Bank Century bailout.

“I have been one of the bank’s depositors since 2004, but since the bank was bailed out I have not made any transactions of any kind with the bank,” he said.

In November 2008, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and then Bank Indonesia governor Boediono (now Vice President) opted to rescue Century, but the amount spent on the bailout subsequently increased tenfold, from the amount they had initially approved, to Rp 6.76 trillion (US$716 million).

The PDI-P has been among the most vocal parties opposing the bailout. Suspicions raised that a portion of the bailout funds were transferred to the election campaign team of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have been denied by the President himself.

Emir’s colleague Gayus Lumbuun, who is also one of the deputy chairmen on the House inquiry team, said the accusations against Emir were baseless.

“This issue could be being used to divert the committee from its investigations,” he said.

Separately, inquiry chairman Idrus Marham of the Golkar Party was reported to the National Police by the Association of Village Unit Cooperatives (Inkud) on graft allegations surrounding the procurement of transportation for 60,000 tons of rice from the customs office in 2003.

“We want Idrus to be questioned as a witness because he knows about the crime,” Inkud legal adviser Handika H. said as quoted by kompas.com.

Inkud also demanded that House Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto be investigated. Setya is the executive director of PT Hexatama Finindo, the company responsible for managing the procurement.

Golkar has also loudly criticized the bailout, regardless of its political affiliations with the Democratic Party.

Yudhoyono recently demanded intensified efforts to target tax evasion, a move Golkar Party chairman and tycoon Aburizal Bakrie regarded as a threat.

Aburizal has said no threat would make his party back down from its critical stance on the bailout, which many deemed could implicate his old nemesis and one of Yudhoyono’s most trusted aides, Mulyani.

Apart from allegations of legal violations, some committee members claim to have faced threats.

“The threats are made via telephone and text messages. The person says I am going to have my head blown off,” Akbar Faisal from the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) said.

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