The Jakarta Post
The Democratic Party will sue news website Asia Sentinel over its report accusing the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration of engaging in a “vast criminal conspiracy” to swindle US$12 billion from Indonesian taxpayers.
The party’s secretary-general, Hinca Panjaitan, said in a statement on Friday that the party would also sue the website’s editor and author of the disputed piece, John Berthelsen.
In his article, “Indonesia’s SBY Government: ‘Vast Criminal Conspiracy’”, Berthelsen quotes a 488-page investigation report filed with the Mauritian Supreme Court accusing the Yudhoyono administration and the Dems of being involved in the high-profile Bank Century case that allegedly resulted in millions of dollars in state losses.
Bank Century, Berthelsen quotes the report, “is alleged to have been the repository of hundreds of millions of dollars controlled by Yudhoyono, known universally as SBY, and the Democratic Party, which he headed.”
On Saturday morning, the said article had been taken down.
Hinca denied the claims made in Berthelsen’s piece, saying that based on investigation reports by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), the House of Representatives’ special committee investigating the Bank Century case and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), there had been no indication of money transfers to Yudhoyono and his party or that the former president had laundered $US12 billion.
He also pointed out that in a 2017 report about Bank Century written by the same author, Berthelsen did not mention SBY and the Dems.
“Because the report is filled with lies and slander, we will file a lawsuit against Asia Sentinel and its editor, John Berthelsen, as well as against Indonesian parties that participated in disseminating the false story,” Hinca said.
Asia Sentinel, which was established in California, the United States, after the assets of the Hong Kong entity were transferred there in 2016, said the Dems had not made any direct demands regarding the story and that it would stand by its reporting.
“We are confident that we can defend what we have written. We temporarily took down the article because we are preparing a follow up on the events of the past two days. It will be up within 24 hours. We stand by our reporting,” Berthelsen told The Jakarta Post via email. (ris/ahw)
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the current domicile of Asia Sentinel.