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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Suharto 'has $45bn' hidden away

Mr Suharto was forced to step down two years ago
Disgraced former Indonesian dictator Suharto amassed a $45bn fortune during his rule, according to President Abdurrahman Wahid.


Suharto's wealth reaches $45bn - we're trying to get at least 95% of it returned to the state

President Abdurrahman Wahid
But Mr Wahid said he was confident at least 95% would be recovered by the state.

He also revealed he was counting on student protests to frighten the ex-leader into handing over the money.

"First the government will ask for 50%. If the students are not satisfied, they will protest," Mr Wahid said.
President Wahid
President Wahid says he will pardon Mr Suharto

"Suharto will get scared. And then, we will tell him: 'We will protect you as long as we get more'. Eventually, we'll get 95% of it."

But the 79-year-old former president will be allowed to keep more than $2.5bn, Mr Wahid added.

Debt

The $45bn figure would be enough to repay all of Indonesia's debt to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the Jakarta Post quoted Mr Wahid saying.
Student protest against Suharto prior to his resignation
Students may frighten Mr Suharto into handing over billions of dollars

"When the money is handed over, we will be able to repay our debt to the IMF and the World Bank," he added.

"We will be free to regulate our own country, not like now where we work to death for the interests of foreign people."

Pardon

Mr Suharto has been the subject of a massive corruption investigation since being forced to step down two years ago amid economic turmoil and student protests.

He is currently under house arrest in Jakarta where students continue to stage demonstrations calling for him to be brought to trial.
Car burns during anti Suharto demo
Some recent protests have turned violent

Mr Wahid has already promised to pardon Mr Suharto if he is convicted of corruption as long as he returns the cash he allegedly embezzled during his 32-year rule.

On Sunday, Mr Wahid said he hoped Mr Suharto would soon hand over $25bn.

He has appointed Mines and Energy Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to negotiate with the Suharto family on the return of the fortune.

Strokes

Last year, the US news magazine, Time, estimated the Suhartos salted away about $15bn, including $9bn in an Austrian bank.

The former president said he did not have a "single cent" stashed abroad, but he lost a defamation suit against the magazine.

The case against Mr Suharto, who has suffered a series of strokes, is expected to come to court by August.

His lawyers have complained to the United Nations Human Rights Commission about his house arrest and say he is too ill to face investigation.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto promised pardon if cash returned
26 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Violence breaks out in Jakarta
22 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto 'too ill' for questioning
13 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto placed under 'city arrest'
10 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Doctors stop Suharto questioning
31 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto: Shades of Pinochet?
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