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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Suharto's fortune
Photo taken while Suharto was Indonesian President
His estimated wealth is enough to repay Indonesia's national debt
Disgraced former Indonesian dictator Suharto amassed vast wealth for himself and his family during 32 years in power.

President Abdurrahman Wahid estimated the fortune at $45bn - enough to repay Indonesia's debts to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Other estimates put the family fortune at $15bn.

Suharto was forced to resign in May 1998 amid accusations that he had lined his pockets on the back of Indonesia's one-time economic miracle.

Students demonstrating
Student demonstrations helped bring down Suharto
During his rule, Mr Suharto crafted himself as Indonesia's "father of development", bringing economic growth that averaged more than 6% for the two decades.

But he left behind a battered economy.

When economic crisis struck in July 1997 the currency rapidly lost more than 80% of its value. Suharto urged his people to make sacrifices to get through the crisis, but his family's business interests bore little of the hardship.

Crony capitalism

The Suharto family continued to spend lavishly on overseas shopping trips and showed little sign of any empathy with the worsening situation for most Indonesians.

It exposed the weaknesses in the system of crony capitalism that underpinned Mr Suharto's economic miracle.

Much of the Suharto wealth is thought to be in overseas bank accounts as well as tied in to property in London and Los Angeles and golf courses. The Suharto family has continually denied this.

In 1999 the US news magazine, Time, estimated the Suhartos siphoned off 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.

Where's the money from?

The wealth of the Suharto family and friends came from their monopolies in such areas as cars and cloves. Logging and construction contracts also were a licence to print money.

Suharto's son Tommy
Suharto's son Tommy: Lavish lifesyle
Import tariffs protected the domestic sales of family products, leading to international rows as foreigners faced illegal barriers to their sales to Indonesia. But the basic policy was rarely questioned during the decades of rapid growth.

The Indonesian system was seen as an example of a partnership between the state and the private sector that had made the Asia-Pacific region so prosperous.

Suharto's six children and close friends were able to build up personal wealth, mainly through government contacts. Prosecutors have questioned them over their father's wealth.

  • Mr Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, built up a fortune as head of a leading toll-road company. Nicknamed Tutut for liking the sound of cars honking on toll roads built by one of her 55 companies, she also served as minister for social welfare in her father's government.

  • Second son Bambang Trihatmodjo, regarded as the clan's most capable entrepreneur, made his money as head of the conglomerate Bimantara Citra, with interests in television, cars, property, construction, hotels and telecommunications.

  • Youngest son, known as Tommy, ran Indonesia's controversial national car project, the Timor, for which he was awarded tax and tariff breaks that attracted criticism from other car manufacturers. He also held the lucrative monopoly on cloves, used in the country's popular kretek cigarettes.

When Suharto resigned it looked as though he would escape scrutiny, but that changed in October 1999 when his chosen successor, BJ Habibie was replaced with reformist President Abdurrahman Wahid.

The president said he was confident the government could reclaim about 95% of the money, by harnessing the anger of student demonstrators. He also said Suharto would be allowed to keep more than $2.5bn, but hoped the returned millions would finally put Indonesia's economy back on the road to recovery.

But in September 2000 judges dismissed the corruption case against Suharto after independent doctors pronounced him permanently unfit for trial.

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See also:

03 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto faces corruption trial
21 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto 'has $45bn' hidden away
21 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto assets seized
10 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Doctors stop Suharto questioning
15 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto promised pardon if cash returned
13 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto placed under 'city arrest'
14 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto's son acquitted of corruption
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