Freeze And Seize Lilybank
The revelation that Lilybank Station and luxury resort has not been sold, despite December 2000 reports that it had been, gives the New Zealand government another opportunity to take decisive action on this best known New Zealand asset of the Suharto family and cronies.
Tommy Suharto, the son of the overthrown Indonesian President, bought Lilybank in the early 1990s. In 1999 he sold it to his Singaporean business partner for $1, a deal so obviously shonky that it attracted major public attention at the time. It was reported, in late 2000, that Lilybank had been sold again, for several million dollars, to unidentified North American buyers. Somebody has got something to hide with this deal – when CAFCA asked the Overseas Investment Commission for the details of that reported sale, it would neither “confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence” of any such information. That’s the first time we’ve ever had that response from the Commission in dealings going back to the 1980s. It's an even stranger response when you consider that no such sale apparently took place.
The Indonesian government is keenly interested in Tommy Suharto's NZ assets, specifically Lilybank. The NZ government has confirmed that the Indonesian Attorney General sent representatives to NZ, last February, to investigate the matter. As for Tommy himself, he has been a fugitive from Indonesian justice since last year. He has on the run from a prison sentence for corruption.
We repeat our call for any proposed sale of Lilybank to be frozen, and for the property to be seized, in accordance with both New Zealand and international law. That would show that New Zealand is serious about its offer to assist Indonesia in identifying and seizing the illgotten wealth of the Suharto family and their cronies.
Lilybank, of course, is not the only one of these. Goldfield Heights, the Indonesian-owned subdivision near Queenstown warrants investigation. Its most controversial property owner was Tommy Suharto’s sister, Titiek. Her husband was the commander of Indonesian special forces – the very troops who continue to train and back the militia who threaten the Timorese, and the New Zealand peackeepers, to this day. Titiek has supposedly sold her holiday chalets – to an Indonesian company she controls. There is substantial Suharto crony ownership in the New Zealand corporate sector too. Public attention is currently focused on the fate of Brierley’s stake in Air New Zealand. Brierley’s is substantively owned by an Asian consortium, whose Indonesian partner, Liem Sioe Liong, is Suharto’s oldest crony.
In 2000, CAFCA and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee launched a campaign calling for the identification and seizure of the NZ assets of the Suharto family and cronies. The NZ government said that it was happy to cooperate with Indonesia on the matter. So what has happened since? We call on the Government to come up with some actions to match its words. We owe that to the long suffering peoples of Indonesia and East Timor.
Murray Horton Secretary/Organiser