Indonesia seizes land owned by Suharto son’s company

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian authorities on Friday seized four plots of land owned by the youngest son of former dictator Suharto as part of efforts to recover money owed the government since the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

The confiscation was part of government attempts to recover the outstanding debt of PT Timor Putra Nasional, a carmaker owned by Hutomo Mandala Putra, also known as Tommy Suharto, after it defaulted on loans from state banks worth 2.6 trillion ($180.8 million) made during the financial crisis, Finance Ministry official Rionald Silaban said.

The four plots of land in West Java’s Karawang district total 124 hectares (306 acres), he said in a statement.

A government task force established in April has began confiscating assets from people who were bailed out with central bank funds during the financial crisis. It has so far seized 49 plots of land totaling 520 hectares (1,285 acres) from debtors of a Bank Indonesia liquidity support fund known as BLBI.

The task force is mandated to recover around 110 trillion rupiah ($7.7 billion) in unrepaid loans through civil litigation by the end of 2023. Silaban said the seized land would be sold in open auctions.

Authorities deployed more than 400 police and soldiers to protect members of the task force as they carried out Friday’s confiscation because they faced “several obstacles” in executing the seizure, the statement said.

Tommy Suharto and his team of lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

The 59-year-old former playboy come to symbolize the excesses committed by Indonesia’s ruling class during Suharto’s 32 years in power, which ended in 1998 after widespread pro-democracy demonstrations.

An Indonesian court in 2002 sentenced Tommy Suharto to 15 years in prison on charges of paying two hit men to murder a Supreme Court justice who convicted him of corruption, but he was released in less than four years.

With a reputation as one of the most corrupt leaders in the world, Suharto and his family were estimated by some to have accumulated between $15 billion and $35 billion while he was president.

In November 2018, a court directed the seizure of a 14-story office building in downtown Jakarta owned by the Suharto family after the Supreme Court ordered a foundation set up by the former dictator to pay a fine of 4.4 trillion rupiah ($306 million) for misusing scholarship funds.

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