Senin, 17 November 2008

Police detain suspect in bank rumor case

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta

The National Police announced Sunday the detention of a stock market broker for allegedly spreading rumors by email about a deposit run on certain banks, which led to brief panic and put the country’s banking health into question.

The trader, Erick Jazier Adriansjah of PT Bahana Securities, has been declared a suspect for defamation and spreading false information, and was taken into custody on Sunday, said Sr. Comr. Petrus Golose, head of the National Police’s cyber crime unit.

“The suspect spread the rumor after receiving information from another broker,” Petrus said at a press conference, adding the police were still investigating the case.

Erick, 38, was arrested after police found evidence that the e-mail in question originated from a computer in his office.

The email read, “Market news stated that several Indo banks are having a liquidity problem and failed to complete interbank transactions. These banks include: Bank Panin, Bank Bukopin, Bank Artha Graha, Bank CIC, and Bank Victoria. We will keep you updated.”

It was sent by Erick on Thursday at 4:59 p.m. to his clients, eventually spreading to local and overseas investors.

“This misleading information is dangerous to the economy because it could lead to a run on banks and other unexpected outcomes,” said National Police director of special economy Brig. Gen. Edmon Ilyas.

The rumors came shortly after it was revealed that Bank Century had missed a deadline to settle an obligation of Rp 5 billion to the central bank’s clearing system.

While the central bank later confirmed this was due mostly to a “technical problem” rather than a liquidity shortage, it still triggered concern over the stability of the nation’s banking sector.

The concerns were exacerbated by the fact the government only guarantees bank deposits of up to Rp 2 billion, at a time when neighboring countries — including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong — already cover all deposits in full.

Many economists suggest such a rumor would not have caused so much panic had the government applied full protection for bank deposits, regardless of the amount.

The business players, spearheaded by the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), have openly asked for a full deposit guarantee, arguing it was necessary to avoid capital flight amid the current global financial crunch.

The central bank is said to favor such a policy.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, however, has repeatedly played down the urgency of such a move, saying it would create “moral hazards” and claiming the current scheme already covered more than 99 percent of deposit account holders.

Critics accuse Kalla of forgetting to mention that the remaining less-than 1 percent of accounts make up, in value, nearly 40 percent of all third party funds in the Indonesian banking sector, which totals around Rp 1,520 trillion.

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