* Next court hearing is on Feb. 21
* Goldman has countersued Tjokrosaputro claiming
* Key dispute point relates to who owned shares during repo
* Experts say case is test for Indonesia's legal system
(Updates with court postponing hearing, adds comments from
lawyer, more details on dispute)
By Eveline Danubrata
JAKARTA, Feb 7 An Indonesian court postponed on
Tuesday the hearing of a billion-dollar dispute between Goldman
Sachs and a local tycoon by two weeks, granting him time
to gather more evidence to prove a claim the U.S. bank's unit
unlawfully sold shares he owned.
Goldman had taken the unusual step of counter-suing the
retail-to-property businessman - Benny Tjokrosaputro - in a
Jakarta court claiming reputational damage. The court hearing on
Tuesday was set to have given Tjokrosaputro a chance to rebuff
Goldman's assertion, but it is now delayed until Feb. 21.
The dispute comes at a time when Indonesia, Southeast Asia's
largest economy, is embarking on its biggest drive for foreign
investment in a decade. Its government recently raised investor
concerns by cutting business ties with JPMorgan over a negative
research report and partially reversing a mining policy.
At stake in the Goldman case is the protection of the rights
of foreigners, amid a general lack of transparency in Indonesian
court proceedings, legal experts say.
"This lack of transparency can result in very surprising
decisions, especially when you have a foreign party seeking
recovery from a well-resourced and well-connected local party,"
Bill Sullivan, senior foreign counsel at Indonesian law firm
Christian Teo & Partners, told Reuters in an email.
Goldman's dispute with Tjokrosaputro, president director of
property developer PT Hanson International Tbk, stems
from an arcane area of the financial market in which individuals
or firms sell shares in return for short-term funding, according
to court documents and people familiar with the matter.
Such a repurchase agreement, or a repo, effectively acts as
a loan but the deal involves temporarily transferring legal
ownership of the shares.
Tjokrosaputro had pledged 425 million Hanson shares to U.S.
hedge fund Platinum Partners in return for funding on the basis
that he could get the shares back upon repayment, according to
Tjokrosaputro's lawyers and court documents.
Goldman Sachs International, a London-based unit of Goldman,
bought the Hanson shares from Platinum as a hedge for the
derivatives it had entered into with the fund, a bank spokesman
In late 2014, New York-based Platinum fell into financial
difficulties and had trouble paying back a large number of
investors, according to U.S. authorities who recently charged
top executives of the fund with running a $1 billion fraud.
Goldman started selling the Hanson shares last year, but was
forced to stop after Tjokrosaputro filed a police complaint.
He went on to sue Goldman in September for 15 trillion
rupiah ($1.1 billion), alleging the transaction was conducted
In response, Goldman counter-sued the tycoon last month for
at least $1.1 billion.
Goldman "lawfully" acquired the shares from Platinum through
the negotiated board of the Indonesian Stock Exchange and the
transactions were validly settled, it says in its court
A key area of the dispute relates to who actually owned the
shares during the repo transaction.
Goldman says in its court filings that it "understands"
Platinum originally acquired the Hanson shares from an entity
named Newrick Holdings Ltd, rather than from Tjokrosaputro.
According to the "Panama Papers" online database as of 2015,
which compiled millions of leaked documents from law firm
Mossack Fonseca, Newrick is a company registered in the British
Virgin Islands in which Tjokrosaputro was a shareholder.
A bank spokesman told Reuters that Goldman Sachs
International was not aware of any dealings between
Tjokrosaputro or his affiliated entities and Platinum Partners,
nor any restrictions on the shares it purchased.
The tycoon's lawyer reiterated on Tuesday that Tjokrosaputro
was the legal owner of the shares in the repo transaction with
Platinum and, since he did not breach any contract with
Platinum, only he had the right to sell them.
Tjokrosaputro's lawyer did not immediately provide comment
on Goldman's claim that Platinum had acquired the shares from
Platinum has earlier declined to comment on the dispute.
($1 = 13,327.00 rupiah)
(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Jakarta and Lawrence
Delevingne in New York; Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana
in Jakarta; Editing by Michelle Price, Himani Sarkar and