Thursday, May 17, 2001

Sia faces 13 more
fraud counts

A federal grand jury
includes his friends and
family in charges

By Tim Ruel

Former Honolulu businessman Sukamto Sia has been indicted yet again, this time along with two of his younger brothers, two business partners and his girlfriend.

A federal grand jury yesterday added 13 new counts to the nine charges already pending against Sia, 42.

Twelve of the new counts name Sia directly, and some are related to earlier charges brought against him.

The charges include counts of bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements.

The U.S. government is also seeking to have Sia forfeit a $4.5 million estate on nine acres in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles, where he has been staying for the past few months with girlfriend Kelly Randall.

Also named in the indictment are Sia's brothers Suwardi Sukamto, 35, and Sumitro Sukamto, 37; Singapore resident Khee Pow Yong; Indonesian resident Johannes Sjah; and Randall, 33, of Los Angeles.

The six defendants have not yet entered their pleas to the new charges.

Sia's attorney William McCorriston is out of town and could not be reached for comment last night.

The new indictment alleges a complex web of conspiracies that Sia is alleged to have taken part in during his tenure as chairman of the former Bank of Honolulu and after he filed for personal bankruptcy on Nov. 6, 1998.

Indonesia-born Sia bought a 30 percent interest in the Bank of Honolulu in 1987 along with his Indonesian father-in-law, Atang Latief, who bought 70 percent. Latief later sold his interest to Sia.

The government alleges that in 1997, Sia received a $40 million loan from Singapore bank Commerzbank using duplicated shares of his Bank of Honolulu stock.

The Bank of Honolulu board had been told that Sia lost his original shares, so they issued new shares. But Sia actually pledged the first set of shares for an earlier $40 million loan from another Singapore bank, Societe Generale, the government said.

Sia's brother Suwardi Sukamto was allegedly involved in the scheme, according to the indictment.

The government alleges Suwardi Sukamto is also tied in with British Virgin Islands company Indobridge Investments Ltd., which owns the estate occupied by Randall and Sia.

Randall has also been charged with making a false statement by opening a bank account a year ago for Sia under an assumed name.

Another defendant, Johannes Sjah, is the founder of Indobridge and also founded one of four companies that received a million-dollar deposit when Sia sold his Gulfstream personal aircraft before filing bankruptcy, the government alleges.

Four charges of bank fraud also involve a deal in which four $1.5 million loans were set up in March 1997 at the Bank of Honolulu under the name of Indonesian cigarette magnate Putera Sampoerna.

Sampoerna has told authorities he never authorized the loan. The money really went to Sia, with help from Suwardi Sukamto, the government alleges.

According to records obtained from Sia's bankruptcy case, a written order from Suwardi Sukamto to the bank in reference to the account reads, "Keep in mind that all communications with customer will be through me!!!"

No hearings have been scheduled on the indictments but are expected in the next couple of weeks.

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