The majority owner of the Bank of Honolulu was arrested at gunpoint in a surprise swoop by FBI agents Wednesday and indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of fraud in connection with his $300-million bankruptcy case, authorities said.
Indonesian-born Sukamto Sia, 42, who fled the U.S. in 1998, was arrested at a creditors meeting that had brought the former developer back to Honolulu from his current home in Macao. Sia was later arraigned on the indictment and pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate. A bail hearing was set for Thursday.
Sia’s bankruptcy filing in November 1998 is considered one of the largest transactional personal bankruptcy cases on record. Sia, who bought the Bank of Honolulu in 1987, claimed debts of nearly $300 million and only $9.3 million in assets.
Wednesday’s grand jury indictment alleges that Sia fraudulently transferred assets prior to filing bankruptcy, then concealed his true assets from the bankruptcy trustee, creditors and the U.S. trustee, said Hawaii U.S. Atty. Steven S. Alm.
Sia, who stepped down as chairman of the bank after his bankruptcy filing but still has a 74% controlling interest, is accused of fraudulently transferring more than $7 million of the proceeds from the sale of a Gulfstream jet to companies he controlled.
Ten FBI agents, their guns drawn and wearing body armor, surprised Sia at the creditors meeting. FBI Special Agent John Gilles said the show of force was necessary because Sia normally travels with bodyguards.