Headlines

KPK to investigate haj
fund irregularities

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has said that it is looking into several irregularities in the management by the Religious Affairs Ministry of the Rp 80 trillion (US$8.29 billion) haj pilgrimage fund.

KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said on Sunday that the anti-graft commission would delve into the audit report by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), which alleged extensive irregularities over the last eight years, involving the savings of prospective pilgrims.

“The KPK is still studying [the report on] the haj fund. At the same time, we are also analyzing reports from the public regarding the haj management,” he told The Jakarta Post.

PPATK head Muhammad Yusuf announced on Wednesday that a great deal of expenditure involving the haj fund was not entirely transparent.

He said that the ministry had also demanded higher deposits from prospective pilgrims despite the already massive size of the fund.

The PPATK also indicated that the fund, which has generated Rp 2.3 trillion in interest, was entirely deposited in one bank without a clear set of guidelines.

Earlier on Sunday, KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto said that if the PPATK report was supported by sufficient evidence, the commission could ask for detailed information of suspicious transactions including details of the bank accounts of any individuals or officials implicated.

Bambang also called on the PPATK to distribute the audit report to other law enforcement agencies; the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office.

Religious Affairs Minister Sur-yadharma Ali said that he would resign if evidence was found to support the embezzlement allegations. He rejected the report’s claims on the size of the fund saying the fund amounted to only Rp 50 trillion.

“If it is Rp 80 trillion, I will tender my resignation now,” Suryadharma, who is also the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), said on Friday.

Suryadharma said that the ministry’s inspector general M. Jasin had also written to the PPATK responding to the audit report. He also regretted the fact that the PPATK had not verified the findings with the ministry before making them public.

“The issue of the Rp 80 trillion fund is misleading,” he said.

Previously, the KPK had found irregularities in the management of interest worth Rp 1.7 trillion earned on the haj fund.

The antigraft body suggested that the government impose a moratorium on the program until the ministry could resolve the issues. The ministry responded by assigning several of its officials to look for evidence of graft in December last year.

Recently, Jasin, who is also a former KPK deputy chairman, disclosed that officials at Religious Affairs offices (KUA) throughout the country could have swindled Rp 1.2 trillion per year from the registration of marriages.

The KPK issued a recommendation on the marriage registration irregularities but the ministry has failed to comply.

The KPK’s 2012 integrity survey ranked the Religious Affairs Ministry at the bottom of a list of 22 government institutions. The ministry received 5.37 out of a possible score of 10 points. The average score was set at 6.00. (yps)

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