Tommy Suharto: The fallen playboy
CNN Hong Kong
(CNN) -- At the height of the Suharto presidency, the glitterati, glamour and conspicuous consumption of Indonesian high society revolved around one man -- Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, youngest and favorite son of the former president.
Famed for his fast cars, lavish lifestyle and wealthy companions, for the upwardly mobile of Indonesia's capital city Tommy Suharto was the man to know and be seen with.
Never shy of flaunting his wealth Tommy's shiny blue Rolls Royce was a frequent sight on the streets of Jakarta as a he flitted between business meetings and celebrity-studded gala dinners.
A part time racing car driver his love of the high life saw him spend millions of dollars for a majority stake in Italian luxury sports car maker Lamborghini.
Millions more were spent on a string of luxury homes around the world, including a $4-million hunting ranch in New Zealand and more than 20 apartments in England.
His marriage in 1997 capped a life of opulence with Tommy taking the role of a boy prince in a virtual royal wedding attended by more than 1,000 guests.
With millions of Indonesians struggling to gather enough food to feed their families, such prolific spending caused growing resentment.
When the good times finally came crashing to an end in June 1998, shortly after his father's fall from power, Time Magazine estimated Tommy's personal fortune in the region of $800 million.
Much of that wealth rested on the political influence of the Suharto family name.
Under his father's patronage, Tommy's Humpuss Group of companies built up a corporate empire that stretched across Indonesia and around the world.
In the early 1990s Suharto senior gave him the national monopoly on the lucrative distribution of cloves, a key ingredient in Indonesia's highly scented and wildly popular kretek cigarettes.
Later he was also given control of the Indonesian national car project, the Timor -- an enterprise condemned by critics as doing little more than lining the pockets of the Suharto family at the state's expense.
The venture, which relied almost entirely on imported components, was given extensive tax breaks and other special benefits by the Suharto government.
Both the Timor project and the clove monopoly were eventually dumped as a condition of the IMF bailout for the Indonesian economy that followed his father's fall from grace.
On the run
Tommy, however, was not about to give up the way of life to which he had become accustomed.
A conviction for corruption -- overturned a year later -- over his involvement in a multi-million dollar land scam in September 2000 was not going to stand in his way either.
Rather than face 18 months in jail, Tommy went into hiding, sparking a manhunt lasting more than a year.
During his time on the run, the judge that convicted him was gunned down by hitmen in broad daylight.
Police have since implicated Tommy as the mastermind behind the killing -- a charge he himself has repeatedly denied.
His name was also mentioned in connection with a string of bomb attacks in the Indonesian capital and in the course of their manhunt police found several arms caches stored in Tommy's Jakarta homes.
Now on trial for murder Indonesians will be watching his case closely, eager to see whether a man who once lived a life of such privilege remains equal in the eyes of the law.
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