Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Bribery ensures spoils go to the treasure hunters


The Jakarta Post
By Abdul Khalik
March 20, 2006

During the last 20 years, there have been dozens of legal and illegal salvage operations to recover ancient treasures from shipwrecks in Indonesian waters.

Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of pieces of ancient ceramics, gold coins and glassware, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have been removed from the country's seas.

With so much money being made by the treasure hunters, Indonesia has officially only received Rp 26.7 billion (US$2.9 million) for what should be a state asset.

"We handed over around Rp 27 billion to the Finance Ministry recently. We hope we can give more to the state in the future," said Ali Supardan, a senior official at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

The first major discovery of an ancient shipwreck occurred in 1985, when an expedition of foreign and local companies found thousands of pieces of ancient ceramic in the sea near the Heliputan islands in Riau.

Experts estimated the items were worth at least US$17.5 million. However, the state received nothing from the find when the recovered items were shipped overseas and sold at auction.

In 1999, another salvage project involving local and foreign companies recovered thousands of ancient ceramic pieces in the Gelasa Strait near the Bangka-Belitung islands in Sumatra. The government received less than $300,000 from this discovery, despite estimates that the treasure was worth millions of dollars.

A 1992 presidential decree stipulates the proceeds from any treasures recovered from Indonesian waters will be evenly split by the state and the salvage company or companies.

One senior government official, who asked not to be identified, said salvage companies preferred to bribe the necessary officials rather than pay the state.

"If a salvage company knows it will get millions of dollars from a sunken ship, it will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars bribing high-ranking officials to avoid paying the state," he told The Jakarta Post.

In 1998, German treasure hunter Tilman Walterfang found over 60,000 pieces of ancient Chinese ceramic dating to between the 7th and 10th centuries, near the Bangka-Belitung islands.

The discovery was praised as one of the most important ever in Asia, as it helped archeologists understand the ancient trade route known as the "Silk Road of the sea".

While the recovered materials were valued at about $80 million, Walterfang ended up paying Indonesia only $2.5 million in cash plus a number of unsold pieces.

To avoid paying the state its share of the treasure, Walterfang, who was reportedly financed by Matthias Dragger, a wealthy heir to Germany's Dragger family fortune, and his affluent brother-in-law Hans Michael Jebsen, director and co-owner of Jebsen & Co., a leading Hong Kong-based trading company, allegedly bribed several high-ranking officials in the Defense Ministry and the Navy.

German publication Der Spiegel, in its Jan. 30, 2006, edition, reported that Walterfang sold most of the ceramic pieces to the Singapore government in 2005 for $32 million, while taking recovered gold pieces to Germany and a large part of the remaining ceramics to New Zealand.

"We are still investigating the case. Unfortunately, all of the ship's crew, including the German, has left Indonesia. We are trying to trace him to find out why the state received so little," a police officer close to the investigation told the Post.


 Sports Pool Play for FREE in our Office Pool, and win FREE weekly prizes. Play FREE now!
Costa Rica Hotel For business trips or vacation travel, let us take care of all the details
for your itinerary.
Galapagos Islands, Tours, Hotels, and more...

Ecuador Travel Site - A guide to have the greatest vacations in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, find all the main info about Ecuador: history, tours, hotels, Galapagos islands cruises, car rental. You can find more info at

Costa Rica Index -TOUR OPERATOR-
Informative Country Guide and Costa Rica Tourism Board, Tourism, entertaintment, ecologic, small business, costa rica travel, costa rica vacation, costa rica tours, rainforest, Costa Rica hotels.

You can find more info at


I found a great place referring this blog
casino online
I am also in agreement with the Court's observations in regard to the right
to self-determination of the people of East Timor, their right to permanent
sovereignty over their natural resources, and the erga omnes nature of these
rights. The stress laid by the Court on self-determination as "one of the
essential principles of contemporary international law" casino on line
online casino
top casino
top online casino
online poker
online casino
internet casino

has my complete and unqualified support.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?