Subject: Re: Lilybank Must Be Seized
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 98 15:17:10 +1200
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (East Timor Independenc) Organization: PlaNet Gaia Otautahi
Following is a media release from the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa.
23 October 1998 Chief Reporter
LILYBANK MUST BE SEIZED
The news that Tommy Suharto's Lilybank Lodge is closed and for sale should be the cue for the Government to stop the sale or, better still, seize the property. There is no doubt that the overthrown Suharto family amassed their enormous wealth by massive, institutionalised corruption. "Kleptocracy" was the phrase applied to President Suharto's 32 years in power. Forbes estimates the wealth of him alone at $US4 billion, not including his family.
The undisputed expert on the Suharto wealth is exiled Indonesian academic, Dr George Aditjondro. He toured New Zealand in February 1998 and attempted to visit Lilybank (being one of the many turned away by its inhospitable manager, Gerard Olde Olthof). Aditjondro's conclusion was succinctly summed up in the Press headline of his visit (13/2/98): "Lodge bought on `proceeds of corruption'".
Aditjondro has returned to Indonesia this month, and is a leading expert assisting the Habibie government to investigate the Suharto wealth. There is a rapidly growing movement in Indonesia calling for the seizure of the Suhartos' illgotten gains. We call on the New Zealand government to do its bit and seize Lilybank while evidence is assembled in Indonesia. There is ample New Zealand precedent for property to be seized as the proceeds of crime.
The current arrest of former Chilean dictator Pinochet, in London, shows that international law does have teeth when applied to tyrants. It is simply a matter of political will. And patience is essential - Filipino human rights victims filed an American class action suit against the Marcos family as soon as they were overthrown in 1986 and have since been awarded over $US1 billion damages. Only now, 12 years later, is any money about to be paid to them.
The other lesson from this Lilybank fiasco is that the Government, and its agent, the Overseas Investment Commission, needs to tighten up considerably the criteria for foreign investors. Closely examining the children and cronies of dictators would be a good start. Why should New Zealand get a reputation as a safe haven to stash the loot which rightfully belongs to their impoverished compatriots?
Murray Horton Secretary/Organiser