Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Young officials stash billions of rupiah in their bank accounts

Young officials stash billions of rupiah in their bank
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 12/07/2011 8:22 AM
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The nation’s money laundering watchdog has revealed that dozens of civil servants — still in their 20s or 30s — are thought to have committed graft and stashed their illegal gains in separate bank accounts owned by family members.

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) deputy chief, Agus Santoso, said on Tuesday that the institution had recently submitted a report to law enforcers regarding the suspiciously large bank accounts belonging to dozens of young and low-ranking civil servants: namely, those holding ranks of IIIA and IIIB, and still aged between 28 and 38.

Agus, who was recently installed as the PPATK deputy chief in October, said he was flabbergasted to discover during the first month in his new job so many low-ranking civil servants possessing such moneyed bank accounts.

“You would be shocked if you knew the value [of their bank accounts], as they range from millions to hundreds of billions of rupiah,” he said. “Their bank accounts had been distributed to their wives, children, even parents-in-law.”

Agus argued that such deeds could potentially deliver a blowback for the civil servants’ families as, according to the 2010 Money Laundering Law, everybody involved in stashing the money would face charges.

He admitted, however, that his institution could not prosecute the civil servants, as the PPATK was merely a “financial intelligence unit”, and it could only go so far as to submit the report to the relevant law enforcement institutions, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), and the National Police.

According to Agus, since 2002 the PPATK has submitted 1,200 reports concerning suspiciously large bank accounts belonging to civil servants to the KPK, the AGO and the police, but the response from those institutions has so far been unsatisfactory.

“For example, there was a case involving a civil servant that we reported in 2008; since that time, his [the civil servant’s] career has soared,” Agus said.

Former PPATK chief and member of the National Commission for Good Governance, Yunus Husein, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the prevalent corruption within government institutions was caused by the country’s flawed budgetary system, adding that the current system still had huge loopholes, which lent themselves to fraudulent practices.

“For example, the [end of the budgeting period] in the state budget last year was set for Dec. 15. If there was still money remaining at that date, it had to be returned to the state,” he said.

“Meanwhile, projects were still up and running; so, instead of returning the money to the state, [the civil servants] chose to keep the money in their own bank accounts.”

The PPATK’s findings were another major blow for the bureaucratic reform program implemented in many government institutions, whose officers and bureaucrats had seen significant payrises in the program’s so-called remuneration policy.

Yenti Garnasih, a criminal law and money laundering expert at Trisakti University, said it was imperative for the allegedly corrupt civil servants to be charged under the money laundering law, arguing that while the anticorruption law exerted punishment upon corruptors, the money laundering law had the additional “strategic power” to retrieve the stolen state funds. (sat)

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