his Australian subjects
By AMANDA HODGE
South East Asia correspondent
The complex Dungeons and Dragons-style fantasy of dark states, corporations masquerading as national governments, Knights Templar mythology and financial conspiracies on a global scale would be a more amusing tale if it were not threatening to leave an arc of trouble in its wake.
Australian “delegates” — office holders with titles ranging from Empress of Australia to Prime Minister — have suffered marriage splits, business failures and financial losses as a result of their association with SwissIndo, also known as the Neo United Kingdom of God Sky Earth, according to former members.
But in Indonesia the movement appears to be having a growing and pernicious influence on poor and debt-laden local people.
In recent months, banks across the archipelago — from western Java, where SwissIndo is based, to Sulawesi and Sumatra — have been receiving elaborate SwissIndo certificates from struggling debtors claiming to show their debts have been dissolved by Sino Soegihartonotonegoro.
The documents appear to bear the signatures of the Bank of Indonesia chairman and Sino himself. They also reference Indonesian President Joko Widodo and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Last month, following a series of complaints from banks, Indonesia’s financial services authority, OJK, issued a public warning about SwissIndo and is now investigating the organisation for possible breaches of financial and criminal law.
Meanwhile Sino, 46, a former architect, receives a daily stream of guests at his modest home on the edge of a paddyfield in Cirebon, West Java, from where the operation appears to run from a single laptop computer.
Money cult leader Sino Soegihartonotonegoro with keris sacred daggers in his Cirebon home, which is filled with mystic statuary and mysterious oils. Picture: Ed Wray
Midway through The Australian’s visit, a Laotian delegation arrives: three portly men in tight shirts who place rhinestone-encrusted souvenir T-shirts before the King of Kings and deferentially bend to kiss his ringed finger.
As he tells it, 681st in a bloodline of custodian kings dedicated to safeguarding a cache of gold and platinum dating back to King Solomon — collateral for all the world’s debts — Sino claims to be on the verge of distributing $6 million to every man, woman and child, if only he can outsmart the evil global financial corporations blocking his way.
The release of that giant cache will spell the end of the rapacious global money market as we know it, he assures me.
“Almost 100 per cent of people on the earth are in debt, even the governments are in debt,” Sino explains, as his followers laugh indulgently.
“So who are they indebted to? And who is tasked with liberalising them from this? This is why I exist. I fulfil this role. I am the person who holds the certificate for the collateral that will allow people to print money.”
The outlandish concept appears to take its inspiration from a wave of anti-financial-establishment cults spawned during the 2008 global financial crisis.
His supporters, from countries as diverse as South Africa, Indonesia, Laos, Australia and The Netherlands, are delegates with final responsibility for distributing this money within their jurisdictions. The Australians involved — Sino says they number close to 100, though others say it is more like 50 — seem motivated as much by the desire for a fairer world as the allure of a big payday.
Until recently, Bressington, a former member of South Australia’s upper house, also held the title of United Nations Special Operations Executive of SwissIndo. Bressington, who was elected to the Legislative Council in 2006 on Mr Xenophon’s no-pokies ticket, did not respond to questions about her involvement with SwissIndo, though Sino confirmed that she was still a member of his movement and had visited Cirebon headquarters “several times”.
The current Empress of Australia, a Melbourne woman, told The Australian in an email exchange that only last month the Supreme Court of Indonesia signed a joint decree recognising SwissIndo’s role as global guarantor of all existing debt.
“As you can appreciate, given the magnitude and complexity of this task, a specific date has not been announced”, she said, though funding would be released “as soon as technically possible”.
But Peter van Runt, a retired Canberra IT consultant, who got involved with SwissIndo back in 2013 through alternative New Age media and a movement to dissolve the world’s banks and corporations in the wake of the GFC, is having none of it. “Sooner or later, no matter how much you wish it to be real, the bullshit mounts up,” van Runt says.
From fake gold and platinum (spelled “plattinium”) bars on Sino’s chaotic desk, to the claimed association with figures as diverse as King Solomon, John F. Kennedy and Pope Francis, and the fabulist stories of Sino’s godlike powers, suspending credibility just became too difficult for van Runt.
“(Sino) would tell people they were the reincarnation of famous figures. Sometimes he would tell people they were the reincarnation of people who were still alive. There are all sorts of people trying to establish a power base around this fantasy story.”
A former Emperor of Australia, a 51-year- old interstate truck driver based on the Gold Coast, says Sino now claims a godlike position as the single custodian of the world’s wealth.
The truckie was deposed in an internal Australian putsch a few years ago; he says for opposing corrupt activity such as attempts to collect money from members and convince better-off delegates to fund the lifestyles of others.
He also questioned the practice of “chopping and pasting” the signatures of US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and Queen Elizabeth, among others, on to SwissIndo documents, though he remains as invested as his former colleagues in the conspiracy myth behind the group.
Sino first came to the attention of local authorities in 2012 for flying the Indonesian flag upside down. But police have done little to crack down on SwissIndo, to the evident frustration of OJK’s Cirebon office chief, Muhamad Lutfi, who told The Australian he was disappointed no bank had yet lodged a police complaint, despite “piles” of SwissIndo debt-absolution certificates received in branches across the country.
“Some have been hand-delivered by debtors themselves, some were mailed and some were given by SwissIndo officials,” Lutfi said. “We have discussed it with police but they said they couldn’t consider it a forgery because it does not at all resemble the original documents, for instance the bonds issued by Bank of Indonesia.”
The OJK is encouraging people who have been issued certificates to report the organisation, particularly those who might have paid for the certificates.
But there are no obvious signs of the sort of pyramid schemes that might be expected with such scams — a factor that several ex-members cited as initially lending credibility.
“On average, the people targeted tend to have debts in many places and are falling behind in their payments,’’ Lufti said. “Some of them are actually civil servants and some are small-businesspeople behind on their loan.
“Of course we’re very, very concerned about the implications of this case. What’s worrying is that if we let this continue to happen more and more people will come to banks with these certificates.”
On the day The Australian visited SwissIndo, several debtors loitered hopefully at the edge of the crowd, among them a couple who had travelled all the way from Lampung in southern Sumatra.
Mohammad Nor Karim and his wife, Rini, fish farmers who also breed chickens, said they had amassed debts totalling 20 million rupiah ($2000) with 10 different banks — a modest sum by Australian standards but one that had become impossible to service.
On the verge of them having their house seized by the banks, a friend introduced them to SwissIndo and Sino, who gave them a debt-absolution document.
“It keeps the debt collectors away for a little while but there are some banks which are still pounding on my door asking for payment,” Karim admitted.
“No bank has yet recognised the certificate but I am confident the banks are scared because they had already sent me two warning letters that they were going to take my house, but (since the certificate) they have not sent a third.”
It’s been three months since his last loan repayment.
Dodo Warda, operations director of the People’s Credit Bank in West Java, told The Australian his bank was reluctant to take legal action against SwissIndo defaulters because “some of them eventually agreed to pay and some missed out in their instalments only once or twice”.
“But we are worried that more and more people will turn up with similar excuses because these people were introduced to SwissIndo by their friends.
“We are meeting up with several government agencies (today) about this. We’ll see how it goes.”
Sino, however, has had enough of the banks’ disobedience. From now on, he says, all those who fail to honour the SwissIndo certificates face 100 years’ imprisonment, or a $US1000 trillion fine.
Apparently Queen Elizabeth approved the new penalty herself last month.
Additional reporting: Nivell Rayda.
Thanks to: http://www.hopegirlblog.com