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Thursday, October 19, 2000

Sia pleads not
guilty to 6 more
federal charges

The indictments are for
making false statements and
for money laundering

By Harold Morse
and Russ Lynch

Sukamto Sia, the bankrupt former owner of the failed Bank of Honolulu, pleaded not guilty in federal court today to six new charges that he moved around a total of $625,000 to keep it out of the hands of the bankruptcy court.

The new indictments, three for making false statements related to his November 1998 bankruptcy filing and three more for money laundering, were returned by a federal grand jury late yesterday afternoon.

Sia's attorney, William McCorriston, also repeated Sia's not-guilty pleas on three earlier charges that included allegations that he transferred more than $7 million from the sale of a Gulfstream jet to entities he controlled and concealed more than $700,000 in state tax refunds from a bankruptcy trustee.

U.S. Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi today set a trial date of Dec. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra on all nine charges.

The new counts accused Sia of laundering money by transferring a cashier's check for $100,000 to a woman named Kelly Randall, who appeared with her attorney yesterday before the federal grand jury; $300,000 wired to Belo Inc., parent company of Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas; and transferring a $325,000 cashier's check to Fine Diamonds International.

The three new false-statement counts that overlap with earlier charges include accusations that Sia failed to disclose payments to insiders and funds in various accounts and other assets.

After today's brief hearing, McCorriston said Sia looks forward to defending himself in the criminal case and working his way through bankruptcy. He is a victim, just like others, of the collapse of his financial empire which happened all across Asia and "devastated his life," McCorriston said.

In addition to yesterday's new charges, Sia also faces Las Vegas charges of writing bad checks for gambling debts.

Sia earlier listed debts of nearly $300 million. His resignation as Bank of Honolulu chairman came with 1998 accusations that he wrote more than $8 million worth of bad checks for gambling debts in Las Vegas.

Some of Sia's troubles affected the bank, too, and after keeping a close eye on it for months, federal officials closed it Friday and approved the sale of its insured deposits to Bank of the Orient.

Sia remains in federal custody at a halfway house.

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