KPK opens haj fund graft case

Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, February 07 2014, 9:53 AM

In God’s hands: Muslim pilgrims pray for a safe journey at the haj terminal of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport prior to their departure on their pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in this file photo. (Antara/Yudhi Mahatma)

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has launched a preliminary investigation into alleged irregularities in the management of the haj pilgrimage fund during 2012-2013.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi confirmed the preliminary investigation had commenced, adding that the antigraft body would soon name suspects.

“We have questioned two lawmakers — Hasrul Azwar and Jazuli Juwaini — to gather supporting information,” Johan said, referring respectively to a current and former member of the House of Representatives Commission VIII overseeing religion.

Hasrul is a United Development Party (PPP) politician and Jazuli is a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician.

Jazuli, who was questioned on Thursday, responded emotionally when reporters at KPK headquarters asked him whether investigators had questioned him about budgeting in the haj program.

“I was questioned not as a witness in the case. Investigators just asked about my opinions regarding the management of the haj pilgrimage fund,” said Jazuli, who was former deputy chairman of House Commission VIII.

Johan also confirmed it was possible for the KPK to summon Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali for questioning.

“The plan [to question the minister] is not yet on the list, but as long as investigators need information [from him] then [he] can be questioned,” he added.

KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto said a study conducted by the antigraft body found the potential for the mismanagement of the fund.

“Our study produced ‘interesting’ findings on the management of the haj fund. It should be managed through an accountable system and should not be kept in banks with dubious reputations,” he said.

The KPK finally launched a preliminary investigation after reviewing reports from non-governmental groups and an 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.

Both reports were submitted to the KPK in January 2013. The KPK also said it had sent investigators to Mecca to observe the implementation of haj programs last year.

PPATK head Muhammad Yusuf said earlier that his office found strong indications of embezzlement in the management of the fund.

“We’re auditing the fund because some expenditure does not seem transparent,” he said.

Data from the PPATK found the ministry had managed Rp 80 trillion (US$6.5 billion) in haj funds with Rp 2.3 trillion interest from 2004 to 2012.

Contacted separately, the ministry’s director general for the haj and minor haj Anggito Abimanyu, said he would support the antigraft body’s investigation.

“If the KPK finds strong indications of irregularities, feel free to arrest any individuals implicated. We will always give our support,” he said on Thursday.

Anggito said soon after his appointment in 2012, internal reform including placing the haj fund in sharia-based banks, had begun.

“We have transparent reports and also the haj fund was protected by the Deposit Insurance Corporation [LPS]. We’ve also recruited skilled human resources,” he went on.


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