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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 13:54 GMT
Indonesia supports corrupt bank head
Syahril Sabirin
Mr Sabirin is appealing against the conviction
Indonesia's central bank has given its full endorsement to governor Syahril Sabirin, and said he would not resign, despite his conviction and three-year jail sentence for corruption.

For the sake of Bank Indonesia's credibility, Sabirin should resign

Benny Pasaribu
Parliament committee chairman
"The Board of Governors and all employees of Bank Indonesia are deeply concerned with the guilty verdict and three-year imprisonment... for Bank Indonesia Governor, Mr Syahril Sabirin," the central bank said in a statement.

"Mr Sabirin will continue his office and perform his tasks as the governor of Bank Indonesia, until a final verdict reached by the highest court has been declared."

Mr Sabirin, who has been freed pending an appeal, said he would not quit and called the verdict "extremely unfair".

Economic impact

The Central Jakarta district court on Wednesday found Mr Sabirin guilty of stealing $80m in the 1999 Bank Bali scandal, after which the International Monetary Fund and World Bank temporarily suspended loans to Indonesia.

The money was supposed to have been used to temporarily prop up the privately owned Bank Bali, which was left insolvent by Asia's economic crisis in the late 1990s.

Vice President Hamzah Haz said Mr Sabirin's conviction would not adversely affect the economy, or push down the rupiah.

Call to resign

But Benny Pasaribu, the chairman of the parlimentary commission which picks the central bank governor, said his refusal to step down could damage investor confidence.

"For the sake of Bank Indonesia's credibility, Sabirin should resign," Mr Pasaribu was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post.

Under Indonesian law, only parliament has the authority to dismiss the central bank governor, but this may prove difficult as its speaker, Akbar Tandjung, is in detention awaiting trial in a separate corruption case.

The association of Bank Indonesia employees also expressed its support for Mr Sabirin.

"We... question the legal basis for the guilty conviction against the Bank Indonesia governor," it said.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"He is saying this is a miscarrige of justice and that he is a fall guy."
See also:

13 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian bank governor guilty
10 Sep 01 | Business
IMF restarts Indonesia loans
08 Dec 00 | Business
Indonesia bank chief in forgery row
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