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Indonesia top court says gov't can seize Suharto son's assets

world Updated: Jul 17, 2010 15:03 IST

Indonesia's Supreme Court has overturned its own ruling made two years ago in a civil case against former President Suharto's youngest son and ordered the seizure of assets he owned in the national car company PT Timor Putra Nasional, the court's spokesman said.

Spokesman Nurhadi said the court reviewed the case after the Finance Ministry, acting as the government plaintiff, presented new evidence in support of the government position.

"The ruling was final and there will be no more suits or appeals," he said on Friday.

Under the latest ruling, the government could seize 1.22 trillion rupiah in assets belonging to Timor, owned by Suharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra.

The legal wrangling began when Timor relinquished its assets to the country's now-defunct Indonesian Banking Restructuring Agency in 1999 as a guarantee against an outstanding debt of 4 trillion rupiah to the state.

Timor imported South Korean cars, put its logo on the vehicles, and sold them as national cars.

The project failed following the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

In 2003, the Banking Restructuring Agency resold Timor's assets to a little-known company, PT Vista Bella Pratama, for a mere 445 billion rupiah. The sale meant the loan transfer rights passed from the government to Vista, allowing the latter to collect the 4 trillion rupiah debt from Timor.

The country's Corruption Eradication Commission later found that Vista was affiliated with Timor.

Following the discovery, the government declared the transaction between the Banking Restructuring Agency and Vista illegal.

In June 2007, the Finance Ministry filed a lawsuit against Tommy and his companies, saying the sale of Timor's assets was illegal as both companies belong to him.

In 2008, two lower courts ruled that Tommy and his companies did not violate the law because the transaction was made "based on a joint agreement" with the Banking Restructuring Agency.

The courts also said there was "no legal connection" between the companies.