THE DUTCH - INDONESIA CORPORATE CONNECTION
WHEN Suharto dissolved the Dutch-led Inter Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI), eight years ago, he certainly did not terminate the economic ties between the Netherlands and its former colony. On the contrary, there has been a rapid increase of Indonesian companies opening their offices in the Netherlands during that very same time frame. And ironically, while opposing any cricism from then IGGI chairperson, Jan Pieter Pronk on the violations of the East Timorese people's human rights and the violation of Indonesian women's reproductive rights, Suharto himself unshamefully used a Dutch subsidiary of the Indonesian central bank to launder around one billion US dollars of his ill-gotten wealth, as has been charged by the Indonesian Attorney General in the trial which the former dictator is currently facing in Jakarta.
Since the early 1990s, an increasing number of well-connected Indonesian companies have linked up with a handful of Dutch banks and other financial institutions to tap into the lucrative European capital market.
In addition, an Amsterdam-based subsidiary of the Indonesian Central Bank has even been alleged of laundering at least one billion US dollars for the Suharto family and their cronies, which raises the questions: first, what is so attractive, financially speaking, that so many of those well-connected Indonesian business people have opened shop in the Netherlands? Which raises the second question: what are the moral standards guiding the Dutch financial community that all these Indonesian conglomerates, which have caused so much economic, political, human and ecological damage, are so warmly welcomed in this country?
Nearly all major Indonesian conglomerates which are either owned or cooperate with members of Suharto's extended family have set up their subsidiaries in 'Holland Randstad,' and mainly in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, to be able to mobilise capital by issuing bonds in US dollars and Japanese Yen. One example is the toll road company of Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, also known as Tutut, which has successfully mobilised capital to finance her toll roads in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Burma.
Other examples are the cement factory and steam power plants of Hashim Djojohadikusumo, whose elder brother, ex-General Prabowo Subianto married Tutut's younger sister, Siti Hediyati Haryadi, or Titiek, has raised capital to finance the construction of his newest cement factories in Indonesia and Burma. Cooperating with the military junta in Burma, is not a big deal for Tutut and Titiek, who also delightfully grew up in their Daddy's disguised military regime.
Two conglomerates which were directed by Mohammad "Bob" Hasan on behalf of three charities headed by Suharto, namely the Astra and Nusamba Groups, have also raised capital in the Netherlands for their paper and pulp factories, timber estates and gold mines.
The well-connected Indonesian oil palm plantations, which have for the last decade caused catastrophic forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, have been the most popular economic sector which have raised their capital through their subsidiaries and their banker friends in the Netherlands. A recent study by Eric Wakker, Jan Willem van Gelder and the Telapak Sawit Research Team, which was commissioned by Greenpeace Netherlands has listed all those top palm oil producers and their Dutch financial supporters.
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