Thursday, November 20, 2008

BPK chief defends stance in BI case

Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) chairman Anwar Nasution was implicated Wednesday in the illegal disbursement of Bank Indonesia money by former legislators Hamka Yandhu and Anthony Zeidra Abidin, who are on trial for their roles in the case.

"Anthony came to my BPK office twice on Dec. 8, 2006 and Dec. 15, 2006," Anwar said during a session of Anthony and Hamka's trial at the Corruption Court.

During their first meeting, Anwar said, Anthony had seemed upset because he had been summoned for questioning by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in connection with the distribution of Rp 31.5 billion (US$2.6 million) from the central bank.

The money was distributed to members of House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing financial and banking issues so they would accelerate an amendment to the BI law and approve the settlement of an earlier central bank corruption scandal.

"He (Anthony) asked me why it had only been his name written in the summons and the letter had made him feel insecure in his role as Jambi deputy governor," Anwar said.

During the second meeting, Anwar said, Anthony had accused him of personally intervening in a BPK audit of Rp 100 billion disbursed from the central bank, Rp 31.5 billion of which was allocated for legislators.

"He thought that I had a motive of revenge behind the audit because members of Commission IX did not vote for me for the BI governor position," said Anwar, who is a former deputy senior central bank chief.

He said the audit was purely a BPK matter and that he had never intervened in the process.

Anwar said Anthony had also accused him of being "indecisive" in relation to the scandal.

The BPK chief was among the signatories of a decree issued in 2003 by the BI board of governors to endorse the disbursement of Rp 100 billion, but he denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Anwar said he could not accept such an accusation because during a BI board of governors meeting on July 22, 2003, the only board meeting he attended, he rejected the idea of establishing the Social and Community Development Committee, which would be tasked with distributing the funds.

"I said I didn't know about the purpose of the establishment of the committee, while the disbursement of the money had no legal basis," Anwar said.

Anthony's lawyer, Maqdir Ismail, then proposed the panel of justices listen to a recorded conversation between Anthony and Anwar that had taken place during the second meeting, which he claimed countered Anwar's argument.

However, the quality of the recording was poor, and nothing could be made of it.

While the tape was playing, Anwar made notes on paper in front of him and appeared relaxed.

Maqdir later proposed the tape be replayed, but the notion was rejected by presiding justice Masrudin Chaniago, who said he could not even recognize the voices on the tape.

Former Commission IX members Darsup Yusuf and Dudhie Makmun Murod admitted in the same trial they had received payments from Hamka Yandhu, but claimed the money had not been ill-gotten.

Darsup said the Rp 250 million he had received was just a "gift" from Hamka, whom he knew as a successful businessman, while Dudhie denied any links to the BI scandal.

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