Indonesian President Not Linked to Bank Century, Minister Insists

A cabinet minister on Thursday strongly denied months of rumors in the media that the controversial bailout of PT Bank Century had led to some of the funds making their way into President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s election campaign coffers. “Do not be suspicious. I tell you, things are 100 percent clear. There is no problem involving Bank Century. Rumors saying that funds had flowed to SBY and his presidential election campaign team are slander. Our campaign funds are all fully accountable,” Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said the president had stated on Thursday. “Please write that Pak SBY has never received even a cent,” the minister added. Rumors have been circulating in the media for months, including that the real reason for the bailout was to save Century accounts belonging to Boedi Sampoerna and Hartarti Murdaya, both major financial supporters of Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Patrialis also denied that the president planned to block a proposal from the House of Representatives (DPR) to exercise its right of inquiry in connection with the case. “Pak SBY does not want to interfere. [He’s not saying] that it isn’t the right of the DPR [to investigate the bailout],” Patrialis said. The House agreed on Thursday to bring a proposal by lawmakers to investigate the government’s bailout of Bank Century to a plenary session on Dec. 1. In a meeting on Wednesday night with ministers from political parties within his ruling coalition, Yudhoyono expressed concern that he and his family had been mentioned as being associated with the Bank Century case. He said he would take legal action if his name continued being connected with the case. Communications and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring said on Thursday that the president had expressed hope during the Wednesday meeting that the coalition parties in the House would wait for the results of a Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) report before deciding whether to support the proposal now signed by more than 220 lawmakers, mostly opposition members, to launch their own investigation into the Bank Century case. The bailout of the bank ended up costing taxpayers Rp 6.7 trillion ($703 million), far more than the original Rp 1.3 trillion approved by the House. Sembiring added that the meeting was the president’s way of communicating with his coalition, which is led by Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party. “The president reminded [them] that in the contract signed by the [coalition] parties there is an agreement on keeping the lines of communication open,” he said. Sembiring said the president was only one of many people suggesting parties wait for the BPK audit report. “Just to get this thing straight — many people are saying wait for the BPK result, not only the president.” The BPK audit findings are scheduled to be submitted to the House on Monday. During the House’s consultative body meeting on Thursday, three parties — the Democratic Party, United Development Party (PPP) and National Awakening Party (PKB) — opposed the move to put the proposal for an investigation before a plenary session. While the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) backed the proposal, it was also supported by lawmakers from Yudhoyono’s coalition partners, including the Golkar Party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN).

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