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US hands over wanted bank executive

Banker faces 20 years for stealing government bailout millions

Deputy Attorney General Darmono speaks during a press conference at the AGO office  Deputy Attorney General Darmono speaks during a press conference at the AGO office
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • June 13, 2012
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United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers today  handed over a former Indonesian bank executive convicted for her role in a massive fraud scheme that cost the state more than US$260 million.

Sherny Kojongian Saroha, former director of Harapan Sentosa Bank who sought citizenship in the US, had been a fugitive for 10 years after an Indonesian court sentenced her to 20 years in prison for embezzling Bank Indonesia Liquidity Credit bailout funds after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

She was convicted in absentia by the Central Jakarta’s District Court and also ordered to pay more than US$214 million in restitution.

She was under US investigation for three years and then handed to Indonesian police today at Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta International Airport.

Saroha was later escorted to the Attorney General's Office in Jakarta.

“Saroha’s return to Indonesia to face justice is the result of cooperation between US and Indonesian law enforcement authorities, and is one more example of the deepening cooperation between the United States and Indonesia,” US Ambassador Scot Marciel said in a press release.

At a press conference following the handover, Deputy Attorney General Darmono said, “We will proceed with this according to the previous verdict.”

Saroha’s lawyer Adrian Bojo said his team will appeal the 2002 verdict.

“Our client doesn’t know about the trial process. While staying in the United States, she did not know about the progress of her case since she did not read the news from Indonesia,” he said.

In August 1998, Saroha was detained and questioned over her role in the collapse of the bank in November 1997 and the disappearance of more than US$260 million of the government's money.

She fled to the US a year later where she sought permanent residence, but failed to disclose her prior arrest.

US authorities in San Francisco began investigating Saroha in 2009 after receiving  a tip-off from Interpol.
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