Benny Tjokrosaputro (Antara Photo/Nova Wahyudi)

Prosecutors Demand Life Sentence for Benny Tjokrosaputro

BY :FANA SUPARMAN

OCTOBER 16, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesian prosecutors on Thursday demanded a life sentence for businessman Benny Tjokrosaputro, the key suspect in a major graft scandal at state insurer Jiwasraya. 

They accused Benny of corruption and money laundering in connection to crooked investments by the insurer that caused a loss of Rp 16.8 trillion ($1.1 billion) to the state.

According to the prosecution document, Benny has engaged in market manipulation with the help of several other people to create artificial appearance of shares and then convinced the state-owned company that they were worth-buying.

Benny and his accomplices have used illegal means to increase prices of shares in several companies, including investment firm Hanson International, of which Benny was the president director, mining company SMR Utama, shipping company Trada Alam Minera and several others, prosecutors told the hearing at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.

His key partner in crime is Heru Hidayat, the chief commissioner of Trada Alam Minera for whom prosecutors also recommended 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, prosecutors said.

In addition to the life imprisonment, prosecutors also recommended that Benny be ordered to return Rp 6.1 trillion to the state, the amount of his personal gain from the crime. Benny has allegedly attempted to launder the money by reinvesting in shares, properties and land.

“If the defendant is found guilty and sentenced to other than life imprisonment or death, his failure to repay should be punishable by another ten years of prison term,” prosecutor K.M.S. Roni told the hearing.

Benny, who has recently tested positive for coronavirus, is facing a slim chance of escaping conviction, as four other defendants in the case were sentenced to life by the same court on Monday.

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. 

In the wake of investigation into the scandal in January, Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin said his office had examined more than 5,000 transactions involving Jiwasraya in 2009-2018 and found enough evidence to charge the suspects with corruption. 

A preliminary forensic audit by the Supreme Audit Agency also found several misconducts in Jiwasraya's management and investment schemes.

"They violated the principle of prudence. Asuransi Jiwasraya made many investments in high-risk assets to pursue high returns," Burhanuddin said.
 

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