Rumours About Bank Rumours Are Bankable
Or maybe imprisonable offences.
I first read about this story
in yesterday's Jakarta Post.A stock market broker, Erick Jazier Adriansjah of PT Bahana Securities, has been declared a suspect for defamation and spreading false information which led to brief panic and put the country’s banking health into question, and was taken into custody on Sunday, said Sr. Comr. Petrus Golose, head of the National Police’s cyber crime unit.The email was sent by Erick, 38, from a computer in his office last Thursday at 4:59 p.m. to his clients, eventually spread to local and overseas investors.It read, “Market news stated that several Indo banks are having a liquidity problem and failed to complete interbank transactions. These banks include: Bank Panin, Bank Bukopin, Bank Artha Graha, Bank CIC, and Bank Victoria. We will keep you updated.”The rumors came shortly after it was revealed that Bank Century had missed a deadline to settle an obligation of Rp.5 billion to the central bank’s clearing system,
apparently a "technical problem".
I'm not a financier of any great skill, let alone renown, but I really don't understand how so many people can be conned into leaving their money in the grubby hands of certain oligarchs in this country. Goddammit, I've been heard to shout when the computer's down in my local branch, it's my
money that helps pay your salary, so let me have some of it now
Mind you, if it's army money
, as seems quite probable in the case of Bank Artha Graha, then you've got to watch out for the bank's owner, Tommy Winata
. He has a history of sending a few henchmen, presumably moonlighting or retired special forces personnel, to sort out those who've seemingly maligned him.
In 2003, it happened famously, in terms of the international condemnation
, with the Tempo magazine, but a year earlier Arun Jain, the chairman and chief executive of India's Polaris Software Lab Ltd, and his vice president Rajiv Malhotrawas were detained on complaints of fraud by a client, Indonesia's Bank Artha Graha, a front organization for the army.It was over a commercial dispute that can be considered a breach of contract between the bank and the software company. Its heavy-handed use of force in detaining and later placing the executives under lock and key proved to the public and the international community just how powerful a stranglehold this business entity has on the military and the police in Jakarta.
With this pedigree, is it any wonder that the gossip grapevine in financial circles, and now among the general populace, has it that Erick was initially 'escorted' to the police by a couple of Tommy's goons?
Of course, as with all rumours, this cannot, or will not, be substantiated, and I have no personal beef with Pak Tommy. After all, I'm a vegetarian. I'm also merely a humble chronicler of life in the Big Durian.
My only comment must be that folk believe what they want to believe, and if there really is no truth in the rumours about liquidity problems within the afore-mentioned banks, then perhaps their best course would be to immediately publish transparent accounts to allay the fears of investors and customers.
Going on the offensive over an email has a bearing on all of us, on what we write and to whom. If cyberspace is being policed, and rightly so in the matter of bomb making terrorists, then there must be clear rules and safeguards to protect one's right to free speech as enshrined in the constitution.. Presumably Erick assumed that he was performing a service to his clients among the financial fraternity, but is he guilty of a criminal act?
Many banks have crashed recently here in Indonesia, thus precipitating the financial crisis only now hitting other more 'developed' countries, because of skullduggery by owners and managers. It is surely only right and proper that those directly interested in their fate should be informed. If misinformed, so be it, but the right of reply to an email should not be the extra long arm and heavy hands of the law.
I now await the sound of jackboots arriving at Jakartass Towers, or better yet, swift apologies from all concerned to - ahem - all concerned.
I can then go back to musing about the horrific fate awaiting 'bules'