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Businessman fined over $370 million for Asabri investment manipulation

Reuters - January 12, 2023

Jakarta – The Jakarta Corruption Court on Thursday found businessman Benny Tjokrosaputro guilty in a stock manipulation case involving a state insurance firm Asabri and fined him Rp 5.7 trillion ($371.67 million).

Benny was spared a jail sentence because he is already serving a life sentence over a separate case in 2020 linked to hundreds of millions of dollars of investment losses at another insurer Asuransi Jiwasraya, Ignatius Eko Purwanto, who led a panel of judges, said.

The businessman denied any wrongdoing during the trial and his lawyer Aditya W. Santoso said there had been no decision yet on whether to appeal.

Benny made international headlines in 2018 when he sued Goldman Sachs for $1 billion over the ownership of shares in an Indonesian company, a case he won at a lower court but lost at the Supreme Court a year later.

The panel of judges on Thursday ruled Benny was guilty of arranging for Asabri to buy overpriced stocks, which later lost their value, for the personal gain of himself and some of his business partners.

The state could seize Benny's assets if he did not pay the fine, the judges said. It was one of the largest fines in a graft case.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty. They had accused Benny of controlling Asabri's investment decisions between 2012 and 2019, leading to 22.78 trillion rupiah of losses for the state.

Asabri, an insurance company that provides services for members of the military, police force and civil servants at the defence ministry, ran into financial trouble in recent years. It has reported negative equity since 2020.

Local media dubbed the cases Benny was implicated in some of the worst corruption scandals in Indonesia.

The cases have also raised concerns about the management and regulatory oversight of the insurance industry.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed a financial law calling for the Indonesia Deposit Insurance Corporation to protect policyholders if an insurance firm becomes insolvent, a measure intended to shore up public trust in the sector.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2023/01/12/businessman-fined-over-370-million-for-asabri-investment-manipulation.htm