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Indonesian minister angry over corruption allegations.

JAKARTA, Oct. 14 Kyodo

A top economic minister in Indonesia on Wednesday threatened to take legal action against an American professor who earlier this week accused him of corruption.

Ginandjar Kartasasmita, coordinating minister for economy, finance and industry, told reporters that he plans to ''take legal action'' against Jeffrey Winters, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University in Illinois, who criticized some incumbent ministers for posing as corruption fighters despite having prospered under former President Suharto.

Ginandjar, who recently set up a fact-finding team to investigate the misappropriation of World Bank funds, was among the ministers accused of corruption by Winters, an expert on Indonesia.

Winters alleged in an anticorruption seminar held Jakarta on Monday that Ginandjar profited from deals involving copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia during his tenure as mines and energy minister in the late 1980s.

Local newspapers covering the seminar provided no supporting evidence for Winters' allegations.

PT Freeport Indonesia is owned 82% by New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold Inc. and 9% each by the Indonesian government and PT Indocopper Investama, an Indonesian copper mining company controlled by the Bakrie conglomerate group.

It operates the world's largest copper and gold mine in the easternmost province of Irian Jaya.

The newspapers quoted Winters of accusing Ginandjar of profiting from brokering the sale of shares by PT Freeport Indonesia to PT Indocopper Investama.

Ginandjar, in denying the allegations, said, ''There was nothing I did (in the past) that violated the law. There were no personal profits.''

''The conclusion is that the president will order related apparatus to handle this case and just wait and see,'' Ginandjar said.

Justice Minister Muladi said Winters can be tried for defaming a government official and could face up to six years in prison.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Oct 19, 1998
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