Many of the world's biggest companies were pressured into investing $1.1 million in a posh New York City restaurant by an Indonesian official who controlled his country's rich oil concession, the U.S. government charged yesterday.
In a suit filed in federal court in New York City, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Ibnu Sutowo, who once headed P. N. Pertamina, Indonesia's oil monopoly, with selling unregistered stock in Ramayana Indonesian Restaurant.
Ibnu, 62, was once considered the second most powerful Indonesian, behind President Suharto. Last March Suharto dismissed Ibnu after he plunged the oil monopoly into billions of dollars of debt.
The SEC complaint lists 54 U.S., Canadian, Japanese, Italian, and Swiss companies in oil or related business, and all were "either doing business with or negotiating to establish business relations with . . . Pertamina," the SEC alleged.
Ibnu caused Pertamina to set up Indonesian Enterprises in New York City. The companies were sold stock at $1,000 a share, in Indonesian Enterprise Inc., which controlled the restaurant.
Beginning in 1969, letters signed by "Mayor General Dr. Ibnu Sutowo, president director, P. N. Pertamina," were sent to companies. They were encouraged to invest in the restaurant which, he claimed, would "enchance the Indonesian image in the U.S.A."
When many of the recipients failed to respond to the letter, another was sent. These letters were followed by phone calls, the SEC said.
In addition to Ibnu, the complint names Indonesia Enterprises, Ramayana Restaurant, and P. N. Pertamina. An SEC official said he did not know the whereabouts of Ibnu.
The restaurant is located at 123 West 52nd Street in Manhattan.