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Goff Assists Indonesian Corruption Investigations

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade today sent information about the former Soeharto family interests in New Zealand to the Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

"The known assets formerly held in New Zealand by members of the Soeharto family are small in relation to the estimated $US8 billion thought to have been pocketed by Soeharto family members and associates.

"However, handing over what we know about Soeharto holdings in New Zealand may assist the Indonesian authorities to bring to account those responsible," said Mr Goff.

"The need to bring those people to justice is an important step in eliminating the almost endemic corruption in the country. This was a recurring theme mentioned by senior ministers during my visit to Indonesia last week. President Wahid himself listed corruption as Indonesia's most critical problem when I met with him."

The material Mr Goff made available includes information on the Lilybank Station previously owned by Tommy Soeharto and two holiday homes near Queenstown previously owned by former President Soeharto's daughter, Siti Hediyanti Haryadi. The evidence suggests that these assets are no longer in the ownership of the Soeharto family.

"I gave Attorney General Darusman my undertaking to assist further in whatever way we could, Mr Goff said. Indonesia faces enormous problems but this government, the first democratically elected since 1955, has made genuine efforts to implement reform. We should support wherever we can.

"This material may help Indonesia better establish whether the money to purchase these assets was obtained legally. If the Indonesian authorities believe a crime has been committed, we will look into the matter under New Zealand's Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act," said Mr Goff.

"Under the Act, Indonesia can request New Zealand to assist by certifying that an investigation or prosecution has begun so long as the offence being investigated is punishable under Indonesian law by imprisonment for a term of five years or more.

"New Zealand assistance could include obtaining evidence or documents and arranging for people to give evidence or assist investigations. The law enables New Zealand to locate and confiscate or forfeit tainted property, to restrain dealings in property or to freeze assets.

"The material I have sent to Attorney General Darusman enables him to make a decision on whether formally to request New Zealand assistance in this regard," said Mr Goff.

ENDS

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