Police await SBY’s nod to haul up Misbakhun

The National Police announced Sunday they had declared PKS legislator Misbakhun a suspect for faking documents to get a letter of credit from Bank Century.

“We’ve sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono requesting permission to summon and question Misbakhun as a witness and a suspect,” said chief detective Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi.

Police are required by law to seek presidential approval to summon legislators or regional heads for questioning.

Misbakhun, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), was among the key legislators on the House of Representatives’ inquiry committee into the Bank Century bailout.

Allegations that he had received a fake letter of credit from the bank emerged during the debate on whether the bank’s Rp 6.76 trillion (US$716 million) bailout was justified.

At the time, presidential adviser Andi Arief had made public a copy of the letter of credit, which showed that Misbakhun’s company, PT Selalang Prima Internasional, had improperly obtained a $22.5 million line of credit from Century.

Later, Jemmy Setiawan, an activist from a pro-Yudhoyono youth organization, pressed charges against Misbakhun.

Misbakhun responded by pressing libel charges against both Andi and Jemmy.

Following the revelation of the letter of credit, Misbakhun toned down his rhetoric significantly against the government’s bailout of Century.

The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) reported that Selalang, of which Misbakhun was a commissioner, was among 10 companies that received a total $177.8 through several letters of credit.

A letter of credit is required when a business seeks to import goods or borrow money from a bank.

The BPK said all the borrowers had defaulted on the loans, amounting to $175 million in arrears as of Dec. 31, 2008.

Misbakhun previously said he had obtained the credit legitimately, but had failed to repay.

His lawyer, Sahala Pangaribuan, said he knew nothing about the police’s move to name his client a suspect.

“Should he be called in for questioning, he will certainly comply,” he said as quoted by detik.com.

Earlier, the National Police declared Selalang director Franky Ongkowardoyo a suspect in the case and arrested him.

Both Misbakhun and Franky will be charged with forgery under Article 266 of the Criminal Code.

Jemmy said the Misbakhun case was a slap in the face of the PKS and the Century inquiry committee.

The PKS said it had not decided whether to dismiss him from its ranks.

“Pending any legal proceedings, Misbakhun remains a member of the PKS,” said party member Nasir Djamal.

The Golkar Party’s Bambang Soesatyo, also vocal during the Century inquiry, said he would help defend Misbakhun.

He called the police’s naming of Misbakhun as a suspect “an attack on the investigation of the Bank Century bailout”.

The police said they had done so only after “discussions with a number of relevant institutions”.

“This credit case is part of investigation into the Century bailout,” chief detective Ito said.

“Thus we can’t understand why people question our motives.”