House to investigate alleged special deal for Artha Graha
House of Representatives Commission XI on finance and banking will launch an investigation into the alleged preferential treatment given by Bank Indonesia (BI) to Bank Artha Graha on debt restructuring.
Commission chairman Achsanul Qosasih from the Democratic Party said that some legislators had learned about the special treatment for Bank Artha Graha from media reports and would probe deeper into the matter.
“We are still gathering data on the alleged special treatment,” Achsanul told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Monday. “The potential state losses are estimated at nearly Rp 500 billion,” he added.
During the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, BI gave out subordinated loans to several banks to help them cope with liquidity problems, in which Artha Graha was granted Rp 1 trillion with a 2022 maturity.
In December 2008, a BI governor board meeting, led by the then BI governor Boediono, who is now vice president, and attended by then senior deputy governor Miranda Goeltom, decided to approve
Artha Graha’s request for a reduction in its interest rate on its subordinated loan from 6 percent to 3.25 percent.
Other banks, such as Bank Mega and Bank Danamon, also proposed interest rate cuts on their subordinated loans.
A 2010 audit by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said that BI lost about Rp 497 billion in potential interest income due to the special treatment extended to Bank Artha Graha.
Commission XI deputy chairman Harry Azhar Azis said the commission would summon all relevant stakeholders, including the current BI governors, for a hearing regarding the matter.
Separately, Bank Artha Graha deputy president director Wisnu Chandra told the Post that the allegations of his bank receiving special benefits from the central bank were untrue.
One of Bank Artha Graha owners, Tomy Winata, said the bank’s management was ready to open all records related to the debt restructuring process. “We have nothing to hide,” Tomy told the Post.
One BI deputy governor, Halim Alamsjah, also denied the allegations and said that the central bank had been fair to all banks that requested debt restructuring on their subordinated loans, saying that six banks had received interest cuts.
Speculation is rife that Miranda may have played a major role in supporting special treatment for Bank Artha Graha.
Miranda was recently named a suspect in a bribery case involving the disbursement of 480 traveler’s checks worth Rp 24 billion. A recent court hearing on the case revealed that the checks were issued by Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) and were bought by PT First Mujur Plantation Industry through Bank Artha Graha.
The checks were then distributed to several members of the 2004-2009 House banking commission, which was responsible for screening BI senior deputy governor candidates.
Miranda was chosen by the House to become the BI senior deputy governor.
Miranda has repeatedly denied any involvement in the traveler’s check case or that she had given Bank Artha Graha special treatment during her term as BI senior deputy governor.