Subject: Suharto Heads UN List Of Accused Thieving Politicians [2 Reports]

also: JP: UN initiative could see Soeharto in hot water

ABC Premium News (Australia)

September 19, 2007

Suharto heads list of accused thieving politicians

Jakarta correspondent Geoff Thompson

The United Nations and the World Bank have placed Indonesia's former president Suharto at the top of a list of the world's highest-earning political leaders accused of stealing state assets.

The UN and World Bank listing comes a week after Indonesia's Supreme Court ordered Time magazine to pay $129 million in damages to the former dictator for a 1999 article accusing him and his family of amassing billions of dollars during his 32 years in power.

The list is part of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, which is aimed at giving teeth to provisions of the UN treaty to fight global corruption.

Suharto tops the list with an estimated $18 to $42 billion.

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The Jakarta Post September 19, 2007

UN initiative could see Soeharto in hot water

Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, New York

Indonesia may become part of an initiative launched Monday by the United Nations to help recover stolen funds embezzled to other countries, the Foreign Ministry said.

The UN's Drugs and Crime arm is working with the World Bank on the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, which could see former president Soeharto's crimes fully uncovered.

The former president's name tops the 10 most notorious cases quoted in a UN document.

"To be quoted in a UN document is profound, sort of an acknowledgement," said Arif Havas Oegroseno, director of Political, Security and Territorial Treaties at the Foreign Ministry before the launch of the project.

"We will meet with the World Bank on Sept. 21 in Washington and we'll see what kind of program (under the initiative) suits our needs."

The asset recovery team at the Attorney General's Office (AGO) is currently making efforts to trace and return stolen funds stashed in several developed nations including Britain, Switzerland and Singapore.

The AGO's efforts are aimed at fugitives alleged to have embezzled money from the state coffers, including those implicated in the disbursement of trillions of rupiah under the Bank Indonesia's Liquidation Support program following the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

A domestic civil trial is set to commence next Monday against Soeharto and his Supersemar Foundation, which will see the AGO demand the return of around Rp 15 trillion (over US$1.5 billion).

In May last year, the AGO dropped criminal charges against the 86-year-old after concluding he was too ill to face trial.

The AGO is also pursuing $50 million deposited in a bank account in the Guernsey Islands by Soeharto's son Hutomo Mandala Putra. The account was frozen by the Royal Guernsey Court in Britain.

The UN's top 10 most wanted list was compiled by Transparency International and accompanying documents allege Soeharto to have embezzled between $15- and $35 billion from 1967 to 1998.

Soeharto's figure exceeds the list's runner-up, Ferdinand Marcos, former president of the Phillipines, who is earmarked to have stolen between $5- and $10 billion between 1972 and 1986.

Soeharto won last week a case against Time magazine over an article published in May 1999 alleging he had stashed a massive amount of money abroad.

The magazine said it had traced some $15 billion in wealth accumulated by his family in 11 countries.

The magazine also documented more than $73 billion in revenues and assets passed through the Soeharto family's hands during his tenure.

Actions under the UN-World Bank asset recovery initiative include strengthening prosecuting agencies, bringing financial centers into compliance with anti-money laundering legislations, assisting asset recovery by developing nations with grants and legal counseling, facilitating cooperation between two countries, and ensuring the use of recovered assets go to development purposes.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said governments should act fast once stolen assets had been detected, before the funds disappeared into other money laundering ventures.

"Rich countries and financial jurisdictions needed to be confronted with the fact that harboring stolen goods is a crime," Costa said.

Indonesia has enjoyed little success regaining state money believed to have been laundered in Singapore. The funds have not been ratified the UN Convention against Corruption.

But Costa said the new initiative would work only where bilateral agreements on extradition were in place, which is not the case between Indonesia and Singapore.

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