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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Impending indictment could delay Sia's trial

By Frank Cho
Advertiser Staff Writer

Federal prosecutors are preparing to indict bankrupt businessman Sukamto Sia as early next month on charges of bank fraud, a move that could delay his trial on previous charges for at least several months.

Sukamto Sia is on the Mainland for medical treatment.

Advertiser library photo • Nov. 3, 1993

According to court filings by Sia's lawyers, the U.S. attorney's office told Sia that the new charges will be brought in the next couple of weeks.

Those charges would be in addition to nine charges of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering Sia was arrested on last year.

The U.S. attorneys office declined to comment on the pending indictment.

Sia was the chairman and biggest stockholder in the failed Bank of Honolulu, which was seized in October by U.S. banking regulators.

Sia stepped down as chairman in October 1998 after being arrested in Las Vegas in the writing of several million dollars worth of bad checks to casinos. He filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 6, 1998.

Bankruptcy trustee Guido Giacometti accused Sia of double-pledging thousands of shares of the bank's stock as collateral for loans from banks in Asia.

Prosecutors and federal banking regulators are also investigating $1.5 million in loans the bank made to overseas businessmen, including Indonesian business magnate and Sia associate Putera Sampoerna. Sampoerna has denied borrowing the money and recently filed bankruptcy court records show the money likely went to Sia-controlled accounts.

Prosecutors have subpoenaed former Sia bankruptcy attorney Jerrold Guben to appear before a grand jury. But attorneys for Guben are seeking to quash the subpoena.

Sia, who is on the Mainland for medical treatment, has denied the charge. Sia's trial is set to start May 22. But his attorneys said they will likely ask it be pushed back once the new indictment is filed.