OIC ruling postpones asset repatriation
The Jakarta Post
A ruling by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) submitted by two Bank Century shareholders to Hong Kong's Court of Appeal has forced the Indonesian government to wait at least until August to repatriate the US$4 million worth of assets of the graft-ridden bank from the former British colony.
The Hong Kong Primary Court in February 2014 had allowed the Indonesian government to seize $4.07 million of the $6.8 million hidden in Hong Kong by the bank's former owners Hesham al-Warraq, a Saudi Arabian national, and Rafat Ali Rizvi, a British citizen, who were sentenced in absentia to 15 years behind bars in 2011.
The two convicts challenged the primary court ruling in the same month last year while Hong Kong's Court of Appeal was expected to make its final say in April this year, but a arbitration tribunal ruling by the OIC recently forced the court to delay reading its verdict until August.
The Law and Human Rights Ministry's international division director, Cahyo Muzhar, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that the arbitration tribunal ruling by the OIC, of which Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are members, claimed that the Central Jakarta District Court verdict on the two convicts in 2011, which had become the legal basis for the ministry to bring back the bank's assets to Indonesia, had violated International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Cahyo said that the OIC's move had gone too far because the Islamic international organization should only get involved in the investment matters of its country members and not intervene in criminal lawsuits involving two of its member countries.
The two convicts had urged the Hong Kong's Court of Appeal to annul the Hong Kong's Primary Court ruling and ordered Indonesia to comply with the OIC ruling, Cahyo added.
'I think the Hong Kong's Court of Appeal can distinguish between what is relevant and what is not. The two convicts thought that we would give up confiscating the assets after they got back up from the OIC, but they are wrong. We will fight until we return all the assets to Indonesia,' Cahyo said.
Cahyo added that the reading of the appellative verdict had been delayed until August to give the court sufficient time to study whether the OIC ruling should be considered when making its final say in August.
'It also gives the Indonesia government time to prepare our defense against the OIC ruling. We are sure that we will win the appellative hearing in August,' Cahyo went on.
Meanwhile, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly said in a statement that he had met with Hong Kong's Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen in Hong Kong this month to discuss the OIC ruling.
'The meeting agreed that both parties [Indonesian and Hong Kong government] would not be influenced by the OIC ruling, which only aimed to postpone the asset repatriation,' the statement said.
In addition to the case, the Central Jakarta District Court has mandated the government to repatriate the bank's assets hidden by Rafat, Hesham and former Bank Century owner Robert Tantular, who was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment in 2010 by the Supreme Court. The rest of the assets that the government is still pursuing in Hong Kong allegedly belong to Robert.
In January 2012, then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered ministers, in cooperation with other state institutions, to repatriate assets lost in the Bank Century bailout, which the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said resulted in state losses of Rp 7.4 trillion.
The assets of Bank Century are hidden in 14 countries, including China's Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK.
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