Businessman Benny Tjokrosaputro Sentenced to Life in Indonesia’s Toughest Anti-Graft Trial
Jakarta. Renowned stockbroker Benny Tjokrosaputro was sentenced to life by the Jakarta Anticorruption Court on Monday evening for his role in a major graft scandal in state insurer Jiwasraya that rang the alarm of the country’s financial system in the wake of the case.
A total of six defendants in the case have been sentenced to life, making it the country’s toughest anti-corruption trial in history.
The judge panel believes that he had played the leading role in tricking the state-owned company into bad investments for his personal gains.
Benny is also ordered to return a staggering Rp 6 trillion ($409 million) of the stolen money to the state, the court heard. He risks seizure of his personal wealth if he fails to pay the amount.
The sentence for the chief executive of investment company Hanson International has been widely expected as several other defendants in the same case have earlier been handed a lifetime prison term as well.
The judge panel said the corruption and money laundering cases in Jiwasraya have inflicted a loss of Rp 16.8 trillion to the state.
"We pronounce the defendant guilty beyond any reasonable doubt of corruption and money laundering," Presiding Judge Rosmina said when reading out the verdict.
The panel said Benny has led an organized crime for years to steal money from Jiwasraya and that his actions have “tarnished the reputation of the Indonesian capital market” and “eroded public trust on the insurance industry”.
“The defendant has even forged identification cards to create fake [investors],” the judge said.
Benny has engaged in market manipulation with the help of several other people to create artificial appearance of shares and then convinced Jiwasraya that they were worth-buying.
Benny and his accomplices have used illegal means to inflate prices of shares in several companies, including Hanson International, of which Benny was the president director, mining company SMR Utama, shipping company Trada Alam Minera and several others.
His key partner in crime is Heru Hidayat, the chief commissioner of Trada Alam Minera for whom the same court also delivered a life sentence in a separate hearing.
The two unscrupulous businessmen had misled Jiwasraya to bad investments and inflicted financial losses to the state amounting to Rp 4.65 trillion in share investments and Rp 12.16 trillion in mutual fund investments, bringing the total losses to Rp 16.81 trillion, according to the court documents.
Despite having behaved politely during all the hearings, the defendant has refused to confess his crime and shown no remorse, leaving no room for leniency, the judge said.
Benny has attempted to launder the ill-gotten money by reinvesting in domestic and overseas assets, according to the verdict.
Earlier this month, four other defendants in the case were sentenced to life by the same court.
The four include former Jiwasraya president Hendrismam Rahim; former Jiwasraya finance director Hary Prasetyo; former Jiwasraya investment and finance division head Syahmirwan; and Maxima Integra director Joko Hartono Tirto.
Graft convicts rarely got the maximum jail sentence in the Indonesian courts. Before the Jiwasraya trial, only two convicts were sentenced to life, including Adrian Waworuntu during the 2003 trial of a major embezzlement case in a state bank and former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Akil Mochtar who was found guilty in 2014 of taking bribes when handling regional election disputes.
The Jiwasraya case marked the first time in the Indonesian justice system that multiple defendants were sentenced to life in the same corruption case.