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Commission to probe Suharto's wealth

Agence France Presse - November 21, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian President B.J. Habibie is to set up a special commission to probe former strongman Suharto's wealth in line with a decree issued last week by the country's highest legislature, state secretary Akbar Tanjung said Saturday.

"The president has prepared steps on the decree which explicitly mentioned Suharto's name," Tanjung said after Habibie met with several ministers, the attorney general and armed forces chief General Wiranto at the presidential palace.

The decree, approved by the People's Consultative Assembly, named Suharto, whose fortune has been estimated at four billion dollars by Forbes magazine, as one of the targets for investigation as part of the country's drive against corruption.

"To examine the personal belongings of former president Suharto, the president has thought of forming some kind of a commission," he said, adding that its members would be people with "high integrity and credibility." Asked whether the commission will be independent, Tanjung said "it hasn't been decided yet whether the government will be in it or not."

Students this week tried three times to march on Suharto's house in central Jakarta to demand that the veteran leader be put on trial for abuse of power and corruption. They however were blocked by hundreds of security personnel only one kilometre from Suharto's home.

Tanjung said the government had not considered slapping a travel ban on Suharto. Last week Tanjung revealed the government had unearthed 2.6 million dollars in 72 local banks across the country belonging to Suharto. Several days later 15.5 million dollars of real estate owned by Suharto and his family in Jambi province was uncovered.