Bribes used to hide $A200m bank fraud

The list is itemised – cash, mobile phones, cars, holidays, golf club memberships – breaking down the millions spent by corrupt businessmen and officials from Indonesia’s state bank on police, judges and officials.

For nearly two years, a scandal surrounding inquiries into a $A200 million fraud within Bank Negara Indonesia has threatened to spread to the top of the nation’s police and judiciary.

Although several senior police are facing charges over the affair, the discovery of a detailed list of nearly $4 million worth of bribes will put pressure for tough action on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has initiated an anti-corruption campaign.

The document, leaked to Tempo magazine and also obtained by the Herald, is testimony to the challenges of reforming a deeply entrenched culture of corruption.

Over five months until May 2004, $2 million was distributed across police headquarters, nearly $1 million went to the Attorney-General’s office, $200,000 to judges and $90,000 to reporters to suppress details of the frauds.

Businessmen under investigation for receiving fraudulent bank loans spent $120,000 renovating the Criminal Investigations Bureau and $180,000 on mobile phones for their interrogators, according to the list. One policeman received a $230,000 holiday.

Some items on the list have already been publicly confirmed, including a new Nissan X-Trail to General Suyitno Landung, national head of criminal investigations. He has handed back the keys, but is facing civil charges.

Court officials and judges feature prominently in the list. About $80,000 was allocated to “Supreme Court golf tournament in Batam”. Golf club membership fees were also paid for wives of South Jakarta District Court officials and $100,000 was spent on “costs” at the court.

Six payments totalling more than $800,000 were made to the Attorney-General’s office, allegedly to downgrade the fraud charges and slow their progress.

The delays allowed a businessman, Adrian Waworuntu, to flee Indonesia, although he was arrested on return and convicted.

Waworuntu has confirmed making some of the payments, but has disputed the total. He said he gave $700,000 for police to a middleman.

An initial internal police inquiry into the affair was dropped, but it has since been re-opened. One former police commissioner was last week sentenced to almost three years’ jail for receiving bribes. Another two senior officers await trial.

Mark Forbes

Sydney Morning Herald

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