Indonesian tycoon Benny Tjokrosaputro sentenced to life in jail for stock manipulation

   Benny Tjokrosaputro was ordered to pay compensation of $556.6 million at his sentencing on Oct 26.
Benny Tjokrosaputro was ordered to pay compensation of $556.6 million at his sentencing on Oct 26.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - An Indonesian graft court has sentenced businessman Benny Tjokrosaputro to life in prison for a stock manipulation scheme that helped trigger losses of more than US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) at state insurer Asuransi Jiwasraya, state news agency Antara said.

Three of the insurer's executives were among the five other defendants sentenced to life terms in one of Indonesia's biggest anti-graft trials by a special corruption court in Jakarta, the capital.

Tjokrosaputro, who had made international headlines with a US$1 billion lawsuit he once filed against Goldman Sachs, was ordered to pay compensation of 6 trillion rupiah (S$556.6 million) at his sentencing on Monday, the agency added.

The court found Tjokrosaputro, chief commissioner of property developer Hanson International, guilty of corruption and money laundering by conspiring with other investors to inflate shares in Indonesia's main equity market.

He made arrangements with Jiwasraya executives to invest in stocks and then used gains to buy properties and foreign currencies, the agency said, citing court documents.

The businessman had used his knowledge to "tarnish the reputation of, and erode public trust in, the capital market,"Antara quoted Judge Rosmina, who uses one name, as saying.

Tjokrosaputro could not be reached for comment. In a statement, his lawyer, Muchtar Arifin, dismissed as baseless the accusation that his client had controlled share prices owned by other people, and added that the businessman planned to appeal.

Bad investments led Jiwasraya to default on more than 10,000 bancassurance policies in 2018 and the government has yet to resolve some of the debt outstanding to policyholders.

The case caused estimated state losses of 16.81 trillion rupiah, government auditors have said.

Tjokrosaputro, who ranked 43rd on business magazine Forbes's list of 50 richest people in Indonesia in 2018, had filed a lawsuit against Goldman in 2016 over the ownership of shares in Hanson International. While he won the case in lower courts, Goldman won an appeal at the Supreme Court last year.

Hanson International, which was declared bankrupt on Aug 12, according to a stock exchange filing, did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.