Jakarta’s war on fraud to boost Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
INDONESIA’S powerful Corruption Eradication Commission is set to seize control of a long-running investigation into massive fraud at the country’s central bank, as well as cash held in thousands of secret accounts at government ministries.
The move could give a much-needed fillip to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s re-election chances, after dismay generated by the surprise acquittal last week of a retired former spy chief on murder charges.
Dr Yudhoyono, should he succeed in national polls beginning with parliamentary elections in April, will be fighting to prove that his anti-corruption credentials can remain intact into a second five-year term.
A high-level meeting between Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Bank Indonesia governor Boediono and anti-corruption commissioner Antasari Azhar discussed progress in the drawn-out investigation into the whereabouts of more than 580 trillion rupiah disbursed from a liquidity crisis fund during the 1997-98 regional financial implosion.
Reports yesterday said the funds distribution, previously understood to have been about 144 trillion rupiah given to private banks, was in fact augmented by a further 440 trillion given to state banks at the end of former dictator Suharto’s reign and immediately afterwards. The money has never been recovered, although a range of key figures, including former Bank Indonesia governor Burhanuddin Abdullah, have been jailed for their part in the scandal.
The anti-corruption commission’s handling of the case will mark a substantial upgrading in attention to the matter, with previous prosecutions being handled as regular criminal matters by the troubled prosecutor-general’s department.
“We exchanged views on the activities of the liquidity fund and the recapitalisation of banks in 1998 and 1999,” Dr Mulyani said.
“We explained what happened back then … the Finance Ministry will disclose to the (anti-corruption commission) documents regarding the background of the disbursements and the data of assets seized.” The three most senior – and respected – figures in Indonesia’s finance and governance reform firmament also canvassed possibilities in their closed meeting for breaking open 280 undeclared bank accounts at a range of government agencies, reportedly holding between them deposits of about 314 billion rupiah and $US11 million ($15.5 million).
The 280 accounts are among more than 6000 such facilities identified since 2004.
“We will focus on six government institutions with the most number of undeclared accounts,” the anti-corruption commission’s chief investigator, Ade Rahardja, said afterwards.
These institutions included the Supreme Court, Home Affairs Ministry, Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Justice and Human Rights Ministry and the Oil and Gas Supervisory Board.
Dadang Widoyoko, from Indonesian Corruption Watch, said the meeting showed that “it seems only Sri Mulyani and the anti-corruption commission” were serious about fighting corruption”.
“If (Dr Mulyani) were to go to the prosecutor-general we could hope for nothing, since it itself has undocumented bank accounts. People are more likely to fear the commission than the prosecutor-general,” Mr Widoyoko said.
The moves come as outrage builds over the acquittal last week of former national spy agency deputy chief Muchdi Purwoprandjono in the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib. Mr Muchdi added fuel to that fire this week by announcing he would sue Munir’s successor at a national human rights agency, as well as the activist’s widow, for allegedly shouting out “murderer” repeatedly at the conclusion of last week’s trial. (The Australian News.Com)