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The Lawyer: "Not One Cent Abroad"
Holed up in the family compound in Jakarta, Suharto declined repeated requests for an interview about his holdings. But Hong Kong bureau chief John Colmey met separately with two of the former President's lawyers, Otto Cornelis Kaligis, head of Suharto's eight-member legal team, and Juan Felix Tampubolon. Excerpts from the interviews:

TIME: There is evidence that $9 billion was transferred from Switzerland to Austria under President Suharto's name.
Kaligis: When I asked President Suharto about this, he told me: "I don't have one cent abroad." And he gave absolute power of attorney to the Attorney General to investigate. If he finds any evidence, Mr. Suharto is ready to be brought to court. Therefore, I do not believe it is true.

TIME: Has Suharto accumulated billions of dollars in hidden wealth?
Tampubolon: There is no legally admissible evidence to say he has accumulated billions. The AG's office has identified his bank accounts: the amount is $2.4 million. Seven foundations chaired by him received funds amounting to $547 million. These foundations, as well as their assets, have been transferred to the government.

TIME: It is seems unlikely those foundations could collect only $547 million over 19 years, given their revenues. In 1990, for example, they had a controlling share in Bank Duta, with assets of $1 billion.
Kaligis: I don't have every detail about them, but the money of the foundations was used to build mosques and churches, to fund student scholarships, and for social activities.

TIME: The AG's office says more than half the money was lent to Suharto's children and friends, who rarely repaid any of it.
Kaligis: In my experience accompanying the President to the examination by the AG, all the evidence was delivered to him. So far his investigations of Mr. Suharto have never touched the children.

TIME: Should Suharto be held responsible for any crimes of the children?
Kaligis: The law says no.

TIME: Do you think Suharto was aware of the greed of his children?
Kaligis: He concentrated on the government. The children as citizens have the right to carry on business, and it has nothing to do with policies of President Suharto.

TIME: Will Suharto ever stand trial?
Tampubolon: In my opinion he will never have to. For every crime he committed, if any, before 1981, the right to prosecute has expired under the statutory period limitation. For any crime committed within 1981-1998, if any, the right to prosecute has been abolished by the decrees of the People's Consultative Assembly, which accepted Mr. Suharto's reports on how he carried out the assembly's mandate.

TIME: Isn't it ironic that many Suharto critics were once his biggest supporters?
Tampubolon: Of course it is ironic that many who used to support Mr. Suharto now consider him as the only culprit of every error committed in the past. Doesn't that mean that they're criticizing themselves?

TIME: Does Suharto continue to influence the military?
Kaligis: When I asked if he is still involved with political life, he said there are "no activities at all." What he is doing now is praying and facing his old age. He knows he is going to die, and as a Muslim he prepares himself for that.


May 24, 1999

Suharto Inc.: All in the Family
Indonesian officials say they can't find evidence of ill-gotten wealth. But a four-month TIME investigation reveals that the former President and his children now have assets worth $15 billion, including fancy homes, jewelry, fine art and private jets

A Talent for Business
Cash and assets acquired by the family over 30 years

"I Never Asked"
The Attorney General has few answers

A man on a mission to track the loot

Money Trail
A top sleuth lays out a battle plan

Jeffrey Winters on stealing big

"Not One Cent Abroad"
Suharto's lawyers respond

Flawed Legacy
Author Pramoedya Ananta Toer says that Suharto's sins run much deeper than greed

This edition's table of contents | TIME Asia home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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