Thursday, October 30, 2008

Indonesia's Former Central Bank Chief Gets Jail Term

By Aloysius Unditu and Naila Firdausi

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia's anti-corruption court sentencedBurhanuddin Abdullah, a former central bank governor, to five years in prison and ordered him to pay a 250 million rupiah ($22,500) fine for his role in the misuse of state funds.

Abdullah, 60, was accused of illegally transferring funds to Indonesian lawmakers, Judge Gusrizal said today in a ruling in Jakarta. Abdullah had denied any wrongdoing and said today that he will appeal the court's decision.

Abdullah is the second successive central bank governor to be convicted of corruption as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tries to weed out graft. Indonesia ranks 126th in Transparency International's latest corruption-perception index.

Four more former central bankers, including Aulia Pohan, a relative of President Yudhoyono, will be questioned as suspects in the same case as Abdullah's, said Antasari Azhar, the chairman of the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, or KPK, as Indonesia's anti-graft agency is known. Pohan, the father-in-law of Yudhoyono's son, didn't respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone through a central bank spokeswoman.

``I am saddened hearing the news,'' Yudhoyono told reporters in Jakarta. ``In my personal capacity, I have to calm my extended family, but as head of the nation, I have repeatedly said that law and justice must be upheld.''

Abdullah, Indonesia's central bank governor from May 2003 until May 2008, was detained by the KPK in April.

``The judges said I was involved in a corruption case, but not a single cent or rupiah has gone into my pocket,'' Abdullah told reporters after the presiding judge announced the ruling.

Abdullah, the top economics minister for a few months in 2001 under former President Abdurrahman Wahid, was also a central bank deputy governor between August 2000 and June 2001. He completed his master's degree in economics at Michigan State University in 1984.

Abdullah's predecessor, Sjahril Sabirin, in 2002 successfully appealed a conviction related to an alleged misuse of state funds, a year before his term ended.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aloysius Unditu in Jakarta ataunditu@bloomberg.netNaila Firdausi in Jakarta atnfirdausi@bloomberg.net.

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