Jakarta. Prominent lawyers Todung Mulya Lubis and Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara failed to attend questioning on Thursday (14/12) as witnesses in a high-profile graft case related to the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) bailout funds.
The lawyers would have testified against former Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (BPPN) chairman Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, who was named a suspect in the case earlier this year.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators did not explain why Todung and Abdul failed to show up, but said the meeting will be rescheduled.
A total of Rp 144.5 trillion ($10.64 billion) in BLBI funds were disbursed to 48 commercial banks during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.
Bank Dagang Nasional Indonesia (BDNI) received Rp 28 trillion from BLBI and had to return Rp 4.8 trillion, but Syafruddin issued a letter releasing BDNI owner Sjamsul Nursalim from the obligation to pay Rp 3.7 trillion of the debt.
Such letters should only have been released officially by the BPPN in coordination with the Financial Sector Policy Committee (KKSK), whose involvement in the BLBI scheme is also currently being examined by KPK investigators.
"The witnesses had been hired to provide legal assistance for KKSK," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah told the Jakarta Globe.
Thursday's questioning would have been "on what the witnesses knew of the conditions at BDNI and of Sjamsul Nursalim at that time," Febri said.
KKSK was established by then President Habibie to oversee the BPPN when it was trying to get money back from BLBI recipients.
A 2002 presidential instruction issued by Habibie's successor, President Megawati Soekarnoputri, strengthened KKSK's mandate.
The KKSK was headed by then Coordinating Economic Minister Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti.
Its members included then Finance Minister Boediono, National Development Planning Board Chairman Kwik Kian Gie, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Laksamana Sukardi and Trade and Industry Minister Rini Soemarno.
Dorodjatun, Kwik Kian Gie and Laksamana Sukardi have all faced KPK questioning as witnesses in the BLBI case.
The prolonged graft investigation commenced about four years ago. Former BPPN chairman Syafruddin remains the sole suspect in the case.