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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2008, 06:57 GMT
Suharto's battle with corruption charges
By Anthony Reuben
Business reporter, BBC News

In the 10 years since he was ousted from power in the midst of the Asian Financial Crisis, former Indonesian President Suharto had been battling against allegations of corruption in office.

Former Indonesian President Suharto
Suharto has died after suffering multiple organ failure

In 2004, the anti-graft group Transparency International named Mr Suharto at the top of its corruption league, putting his haul at between $15bn and $35bn.

Even as he lay in the hospital, Indonesia's Attorney-General Hendarman Supandji was seeking a resolution to a civil case against the former president.

"The president gave instructions to me to pursue the family of Suharto to finalise an out-of-court settlement of the civil case," he told reporters at the hospital.

He was there despite calls from some Indonesians for the case to be dropped.

"Dropping the case is not about clemency," Mr Supandji said.

"As it is a civil case, even if Suharto died, it would still be continued against his family."

Criminal charges

A criminal corruption case against him was suspended in 2000 after he suffered a series of strokes. The case was finally dropped in May 2006.

It had accused him of embezzling at least $600m from the state.

Born in Java, June 1921
Comes to power in 1965 after alleged Communist coup attempt
Formally replaces Sukarno as president in March 1967
Modernisation programmes in the 70s and 80s raise living standards
East Timor invaded in late 1975
Asian economic crisis of the 1990s hits Indonesian economy
Spiralling prices and discontent force him to resign in May 1998
Judges rule he is unfit to stand trial for corruption in 2000
Transparency International says he tops the world all-time corruption table in March 2004

But prosecutors tried again for a conviction in July 2007, filing a civil lawsuit against Suharto and his Supersemar foundation.

They were seeking $440m that prosecutors say was diverted to his family and friends from a scholarship fund for underprivileged children, and an extra $1.1bn in damages.

Much of Mr Suharto's wealth is alleged to have been siphoned from yayasans, which were presidential foundations, funded by voluntary contributions that were supposed to pay for projects such as schools.

In fact, it is alleged that the contributions came from levies on anything from utility bills to cinema tickets and that the Suharto family freely dipped into the accounts when they needed funding.

Court victory

The former president always denied doing anything wrong and he finally had a success in his battle to clear his name last August.

Indonesia's Supreme Court ordered Time Magazine of the US to pay him damages of $106m (52m) for an article published in 1999, which alleged that $73bn had passed through the Suharto family's hands during his 32-year reign.

The article went on to say that his family had lost much of its wealth during the financial crisis, but still had $15bn at the time of publication.

The same year, Forbes Magazine estimated his personal wealth at $16bn.

It had been a long road for the defamation case, which had been rejected by Jakarta's District Court in 2000 and then the Appeal Court in 2001, before being supported by the Supreme Court.

Time said it would fight the ruling and described it as an attack on the freedom of the press.

Colossal fortune

There is clearly much disagreement about how much the family is worth.

An article in the Wall Street Journal in 1998 put their wealth at up to $4bn, but said that given the opportunities they had to profit from Indonesia's natural resources it is surprising that they had not managed to accumulate one of the world's most colossal fortunes.

Among the industries they were said to have been involved with were car manufacturing, logging, construction and cloves production.

Cloves are lucrative in Indonesia because they are put in cigarettes.

A firm linked to Suharto's oldest daughter Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana dominated Jakarta's toll roads.

His son, Tommy, served four years in prison for ordering the murder of a judge who had previously convicted him on charges of corruption and illegal possession of weapons.

The family is reported to have homes in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Hawaii as well as a mansion outside Los Angeles.

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