Thursday, September 23, 1999

Complaint says
Sia hiding millions
in fake firm

Assets were allegedly
transferred to hide mortgage
interests from creditors

By Peter Wagner


A U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee has accused Indonesian businessman Sukamto Sia of hiding millions of dollars in a fake company in the British Virgin Islands to dodge his debts.

Trustee Guido Giacometti filed a complaint in federal bankruptcy court yesterday alleging that Sia funneled $16 million in mortgage interests in his downtown high-rise, Executive Center, to a nonexistent company called A-B-C Pacific Ltd. in August 1998.

The complaint asks that the transaction be voided and the money turned over to the bankruptcy court.

Sia, formerly Sukarno Sukamto, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 6, 1998, a month after his arrest in Las Vegas for $13.5 million in gambling debts. The 39-year-old investor bought and developed numerous properties in Hawaii a decade ago, including Executive Center, the former state Convention Center site and other properties.

His bankruptcy filings show $9.3 million in assets and $296.4 million in debts to a host of creditors, most of them in Las Vegas, Asia and Europe.

Giacometti recently expressed frustration at trying to secure Sia's far-flung assets, many of them held as collateral on loans by uncooperative foreign banks. Earlier this month, Giacometti told the Star-Bulletin that he was considering dismissing the case because of the high cost of investigating Sia's complex case.

According to yesterday's filing, A-B-C Pacific was an insolvent corporation in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, controlled by "insiders" associated with Sia's numerous business interests.

The transfers were mortgage interests held by Sia in Executive Center, a mixed-use high-rise in downtown Honolulu owned by MKS Executive Partners, a limited partnership controlled by Sukamto Holding Corp.

The mortgage interests allegedly were a series of advances made to the Executive Center project by Sukamto between 1991 and 1998.

According to yesterday's complaint, two "loan purchase agreements" were executed last year in which A-B-C would buy Sia's mortgage interests for $16 million. The transaction was recorded Aug. 23 in Hawaii's land court.

The complaint alleges the mortgage interests were transferred to a nonexistent company to hide assets from Sia's creditors.

It also charges the transaction was put together by people associated with Sia's companies "as part of a scheme to defraud the debtor's creditors."

The filing says the purchase agreements "were merely a ruse to make it appear as though the transaction were a bona fide purchase for consideration when in fact it was not."

Neither Sia nor his attorney could be reached this morning for comment.

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