Subject: AFR: Wiranto ordered counterfeit notes to fund militia, court told

Australian Financial Review September 14, 2000

Wiranto ordered counterfeit notes to fund militia, court told

By Tim Dodd, Jakarta

Indonesia's former armed forces commander, General Wiranto, ordered the printing of counterfeit money to fund East Timorese militia groups before last year's referendum, according to evidence given to an Indonesian court.

Ismail Putra, a retired army colonel who is charged with counterfeiting 19.2 billion rupiah ($4 million), told the Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday that he was asked to arrange the printing of the money by the then head of the army's intelligence agency, the BIA, General Tyasno Sudarto.

He said General Sudarto told him that General Wiranto, then army chief and Defence Minister, had given the BIA the task of printing the money. It was the first time Ismail has implicated General Wiranto, who was not named in preliminary hearings or in evidence Ismail gave to police.

Ismail admits he arranged for the money to be printed but says he believed the operation was legitimate.

According to the Jakarta Post, Ismail said he was told by General Sudarto that the money was to "finance the activities of the pro-integration East Timorese militia during the referendum in August last year".

"General Tyasno Sudarto told me that Bank Indonesia [the central bank] had given the army the serial numbers to print the money and that it was for the good of the army and the nation," Ismail told the court.

General Sudarto, who is now army chief-of-staff, denies involvement in the case.

Earlier Ismail said that in July 1999 General Sudarto originally asked for 200 billion rupiah in 50,000 rupiah notes. But the first batch of 19.2 billion rupiah, printed in September, proved to be 80 per cent defective and an angry General Sudarto ordered the poor-quality counterfeits to be destroyed.

However, others working for Ismail objected and demanded a share of the notes. The scam was detected by the police in November when some of the clearly counterfeit notes appeared in circulation.

Nine others, along with Ismail, face charges.

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