Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, second from left, the former head of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), speaks with reporters after his release by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). (Beritasatu Photo/ Fana Suparman)

Supreme Court Justice Who Acquitted BLBI Convict Syafruddin Found Guilty of Misconduct


SEPTEMBER 29, 2019

Jakarta. The Supreme Court justice who overturned a graft conviction against Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, former head of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, or IBRA, has been found guilty of ethical misconduct, the court said on Sunday.

Justice Syamsul Rakan Chaniago was part of the three-member panel that upheld the appeal in July of Syafruddin, who was earlier sentenced by a lower court to 15 years' imprisonment for misusing his authority to issue a letter of acquittal to major debtor Sjamsul Nursalim in the aftermath of the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

"The Supreme Court ethics council has found Syamsul Rakan Chaniago guilty [of misconduct]," court spokesman Agung Andi Samsan Nganro said.

He said evidence was presented that the justice had met with the lawyer representing Syafruddin while he was still trying the case. Syamsul also still worked for a private law firm, which is considered a serious ethics violation.

"He had made contact with and then met Ahmad Yani, one of the attorneys for S.A.T., at Plaza Indonesia at 5.38 p.m. on June 28, 2019, while serving as a member of the judicial panel trying the case against S.A.T," Andi said, referring to Syafruddin by his initials.

However, despite the gravity of the case, Syamsul got a relatively lenient sentence.

"Because of the violations, Syamsul Rakan Chaniago, a corruption justice at the Supreme Court, was barred from handling cases for six months," Andi said.

The Supreme Court panel, in its acquittal of Syafruddin, said he was guilty of the charges, but that it is was a civil and not a criminal matter. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was also ordered to immediately release him from detention.

However, presiding judge Salman Luthan delivered a dissenting opinion and reinstated the conviction. He was outvoted when the third judge, Mohamad Askin, sided with Syamsul.

Syafruddin, who headed the IBRA during the presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri, was released by the KPK on July 9, a day after the Supreme Court delivered the verdict.

The financial crisis brought the country's banking industry to the brink of collapse when the value of the rupiah fell sharply against the dollar, severely affecting most lenders' ability to repay their dollar-denominated debt.

To safeguard the banking system, the government disbursed hundreds of trillions of rupiah in a massive bailout scheme, known as Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI). 

The authorities later found that much of the funds had been misused by the owners of the troubled banks to finance their other businesses and that they allegedly bribed government and IBRA officials, or manipulated documents, to obtain declarations of full repayment of their massive debts.