World News

Suharto son to counter sue agency for $100 mln

Former Indonesian president Suharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra arrives at the Attorney General's office in Jakarta in this October 30, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A son of former Indonesian President Suharto will lodge a $100 million lawsuit against the state logistics agency, Bulog, his lawyers said on Wednesday, in a tit-for-tat move over a case dating back to the 1990s.

State prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Bulog against Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra last month, seeking to recover 500 billion rupiah ($53 million) in alleged losses to the state in a land swap deal between his supermarket chain and the agency in 1995.

Tommy, the youngest son of the former autocratic leader, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2000 after being found guilty of corruption related to the deal.

But he went into hiding and the Supreme Court overturned the sentence while he was on the run. He was later captured over another case.

The suit against Tommy is seen as part of the government’s efforts to recover millions of dollars allegedly stolen by the first family during President Suharto’s 32 years of iron-fisted rule, which ended in 1998.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to power in 2004 promising to tackle endemic graft, considered among other things as a major impediment to badly needed foreign investment.

Tommy’s team of lawyers said charges against their client were fabricated so that the government could have his money in a foreign account frozen.

One of Tommy’s lawyers, Elza Syarief, told a news conference that Tommy would seek 1 trillion rupiah ($106 million) from Bulog in the counter-suit for damages.

She said Tommy had been acquitted over the property deal by the Supreme Court after all legal avenues had been exhausted and there was no scope to revive the case.