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Suharto hands over 7 charity foundations

Agence France Presse - November 25, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Former Indonesian president Suharto has handed over seven charity foundations he chaired, worth some four trillion rupiah (530 million dollars), to the government, a senior minister said here Wednesday.

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication Haryono Suyono said Suharto on Sunday sent a letter to President B.J. Habibie asking for the government to help the poor and unprivileged by utilizing the seven foundations.

"On Sunday, November 22, Suharto wrote a letter to President Habibie, handing over those foundations to the government," Suyono told reporters before attending a cabinet meeting at the Bina Graha presidential office here. Suyono said the value of the foundations included shares they held in various banks and companies.

Development Supervision Minister Hartarto Sastrosunarto had said a probe launched by the attorney general's office and a professional audit team showed signs of abuses in five largest foundations chaired by Suharto.

Attorney general Muhammad Andi Ghalib has also said much of the foundations' funds were diverted through improper lending to private firms. But Ghalib added no legal action could be taken against Suharto because based on the charters of the five foundations, the funds could not be considered his private property.