Tycoon 'removed' from Singapore, held in Indonesia

The Indonesian authorities are holding a securities tycoon in custody over a high-profile fraud case, after Singapore cancelled his entry permit and declared his presence in the country as "unlawful".

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that Hartawan Aluwi had been "removed" from the city-state.

Hartawan, 54, had fled Indonesia for Singapore in 2008, after he was named a suspect along with several others for allegedly misusing the government's money amounting to 6.7 trillion rupiah (S$683 million) to bail out the now-defunct Bank Century during the 2008 global financial crisis. The controversial rescue was to prevent a systemic risk or collapse of Indonesia's financial services industry.

Hartawan had used a number of accounts in PT Antaboga Delta Sekuritas Indonesia, a securities firm where he was the president commissioner, to hide money sent by Bank Century founder Robert Tantular, local media reported.

He was also sentenced in absentia to 14 years' jail last July in a related case involving Bank Century.

On Thursday, the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority took Hartawan into custody, after "the Controller of Immigration cancelled his entry permit and declared his presence in Singapore to be unlawful", the MHA said.

"He was removed from Singapore on the same day," it added.

Indonesian police investigators flew together with him from Singapore to Jakarta on Thursday night, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters yesterday.

Indonesia and Singapore have signed an extradition treaty, but Indonesia has yet to ratify it.

Mr Boy said Hartawan's passport had expired in 2012 and his Singapore permanent residency status was revoked around February this year, providing "an opportunity for the local authorities to bring him back". He added: "This is really a coordination with support from the Singapore Government towards our search efforts."

Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had considered Hartawan to be an "undesirable immigrant... due to his involvement in fraudulent investment schemes and money laundering activities", MHA said.

"In accordance with the law, Mr Hartawan appealed to the Minister for Home Affairs against the controller's decision. After due and careful consideration of the representations and documents submitted by Mr Hartawan Aluwi, the minister rejected the appeal," it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Tycoon 'removed' from S'pore, held in Indonesia'. Subscribe