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Indonesia's Central Bank Chief Sentenced for Embezzelment - 2002-03-13


An Indonesian court has sentenced the central bank governor to three-years in prison for stealing tens of millions of dollars. But the governor will remain in charge of the bank while he appeals his conviction. In a ruling that took several-hours to read, the judge at Jakarta's central district court said prosecutors successfully proved Sjahril Sabirin was involved in corruption.

Prosecutors had demanded Sabirin be sentenced to four-years in prison for corruption and abuse of power. The governor of Indonesia's central Bank, Sabirin, was accused of helping direct $70 million in 1999 to the then-ruling Golkar Party. The money was supposed to have been used to bail out Bank Bali, that was on the verge of collapse as a result of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The court said the money was then used to help Golkar finance its party's campaign for the 1999 parliamentary election.

When the so-called Bali Bank scandal broke, analysts say it contributed to the election defeat of former President BJ Habibie - and the end of Golkar's 30 year monopoly on power.

Sabirin has consistently denied allegations of wrongdoing and plans to appeal the verdict. Under Indonesian law, he will remain free until his appeal is heard. Sabirin also plans to remain head of the central bank for the time being.

This is the first conviction of any suspect in the Bank Bali scandal - which has become a symbol of Indonesia's endemic corruption problem.

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