Hendra Gunawan

James Riady

James Riady is the deputy chairman of the Lippo Group, a major Indonesian conglomerate. He is the son of Mochtar Riady, founder of the group. The group has recently signed an agreement with Khazanah of Malaysia to relinquish its majority stake in Lippo Bank. Due to his recent conversion to evangelical Christianity, James is now focusing on the study of theology.

Business activities

Riady's entry American business community began in 1977, when he was persuaded by Arkansas banking moguls W. R. Witt and Jackson T. Stephens, and founders of Stephens Inc., one of America's largest investment banks outside of Wall Street, to become partners in the Stephens's Worthen Banking Corporation, after the younger Riady was sent by his father, Mochtar Riady, to set up a banking presence in the United States. Mochtar Riady was also interested in helping Jimmy Carter's former budget director, Bert Lance, sell stock he held in the National Bank of Georgia, though the deal never materialized. Through their dealings with Stephens Inc. the Riadys made the acquaintance of the-then Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. In the early 1980s James and his father signed a licensing agreement with Zenith Electronics to produce color television sets in Indonesia and built a large production plant near Jakarta. Later, in 1985, Worthen was indicted of having administered several million dollars' worth of illegal, preferential loans to companies owned by the Riadys. The loans had allegedly been channeled through Lippo Finance and Investment, the Riadys' Little Rock-based company established in 1983, as well as the Stephenses and Liem Swie Liong, another Chinese-Indonesian businessman, sometimes described as having been Mochtar's mentor.

After Worthen, James Riady bought the Bank of Trade in California, the oldest Chinese-American bank. Not long afterwards, the U.S. federal government issued cease-and-desist orders for "hazardous lending" and for violations against the money-laundering statutes. Riady then promptly sold the bank.

James Riady moved to Los Angeles and established Lippo Bank with the help of Hong Kong banker John Huang. Again the bank lost a lot of money, made a number of bad loans, and violated laws of money laundering.

In the 1996 presidential campaign, James Riady was a major campaign contributor to the Democratic Party. In 1998, the United States Senate conducted an investigation of the finance scandal of the 1996 U.S. presidential campaign. James Riady was indicted and pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations by himself and his corporation. He was ordered to pay an 8.6 million U.S. dollar fine for contributing foreign funds to the Democratic Party, the largest fine ever levied in a campaign finance case.

Together with Jim Guy Tucker he established a company called AcrossAsia Multimedia Ltd. Tucker, another former Arkansas governor, had been forced to vacate the governor's mansion in 1996 due to alleged fraud in the Whitewater scandal. The two had met through Little Rock's Second Presbyterian Church. With AcrossAsia Multimedia they wanted to build the largest cable TV infrastructure in Indonesia using a company called Kabelvision. The venture was unsuccessful.

Today, James Riady lives with his family in Lippo Village, Karawaci, surrounded by security aides. He has been demonized by the media because of his involvement in the campaign financing scandal. Hendardi, an Indonesian human rights activist, once stated that Riady's "major achievement was to export corruption to the U.S."

Evangelical activities

Since converting to Christianity in 1990, James has been an avid evangelical. He has established foundations, charities and Christian-inspired schools to spread the message in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Inevitably, his zeal has clashed with Muslim fundamentalists in the country. On 23 July 2001, Fortune published an interview with the Lippo director in which he espoused his vision of converting poor villages to Christianity. The second biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, the 28 million strong Muhammadiyah, quickly assembled mass protests and demonstrations against him..

He established a Christian university named Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH). Recently 2006, he required the first not less than 250 students from all around Indonesia to be a teacher. Years later, he formed several forcing rules of mandatory to attend his church of his own denomination.

Arts interests

James is a serious collector of paintings and is known to have spent millions of dollars for a single work of art that he likes. Part of his vast collection can be seen on display in the UPH Painting Museum located on the 3rd floor of Matahari Towers in Lippo Karawaci. It stores more than 700 paintings by both prominent national and international painters including Raden Saleh, Affandi, A. Sudjono, Barli, Wakidi, A.D. Pirous, Widayat, Zaini, Srihadi Soedarsono, Agus Djaya, Trubus, Mochtar Apin, Sudjana Kerton, Ivan Sagito, But Mochtar, Hendra Gunawan, Dede Eri Supria, Nasiah Djamin, Walter Speis, R. Bommet, Willem Dooijewaard, J.D. Van Herwerden, etc.


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