A multi-millionaire British citizen is facing a potential death sentence in Indonesia on charges of corruption and fraud relating to the controversial collapse of one of the country’s leading banks.
By Philip Aldrick
Published: 6:47PM GMT 06 Feb 2010
Rafat Ali Rizvi, 49, who grew up and went to university in the UK, has been accused of stealing assets from Bank Century after it was rescued from collapse by the state in November 2008 with $670m (£430m) of taxpayers’ money.
Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Rizvi at Indonesia’s request but he remains at large, splitting his time between the UK, where he has a property on London’s Park Lane, and Singapore. Neither country has an extradition agreement with Indonesia.
Mr Rivzi, believed to be worth around $600m, protests his innocence but friends say he fears standing trial in Indonesia because the Bank Century case has become highly political. Investigations have been launched into the original bail-out as well as alleged corruption surrounding the case.
According to Mr Rivzi’s lawyers, he believes he will be made a scapegoat for the bank’s failure.
Mr Rivzi was a major shareholder in Bank Century alongside Hesham al Warraq, a Saudi national, and Robert Tantular, a local entrepreneur. Mr Tantular has been jailed for five years on charges of not honouring a letter of agreement, but the government is going after Mr Rivzi and Mr al Warraq, who is also at large, on charges of corruption. His lawyers say that, if convicted, they could face the death penalty.
The three shareholders are accused of looting the bank after the bail out. According to Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office, Mr Rivzi and Mr Warraq stashed $1.4bn of distressed debt securities that the bank was holding for liquidity in accounts around the world.
Mr Rivzi claims he is the victim of “a xenophobic campaign to put the blame for the collapse onto the bank’s foreign owners”.
The two former colleagues are not fighting claims that there was a fraud at the bank but are arguing they were not the beneficiaries of the trusts at the centre of the allegations. In a cut-throat defence, they are blaming Mr Tantular.
They are both now on Interpol’s “red notice” wanted list and have had several of their bank accounts frozen under rules to prevent international money laundering.
The rescue of Bank Century has been highly controversial in Indonesia, with many in the country believing the taxpayers’ money could have been better used elsewhere. Bank Century was formed following a merger of three ailing banks in 2001.