Fri, 22 Sep 2000

House plans to investigate Kostrad scandal: Muhaimin

JAKARTA (JP): The House of Representatives plans to investigate allegations of a Rp 189 billion corruption scandal at a foundation ran by the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) although the Army has dismissed allegations of graft.

House Deputy Speaker Muhaimin Iskandar told reporters on Thursday that the House, currently still in recess, has included the `Kostradgate' in its upcoming agenda.

"If the House finds indications of irregularities, it will ask the Attorney General's Office to initiate legal proceedings," Muhaimin said.

The scandal first surfaced in April when executives of the Dharma Putra Foundation could not account for a Rp 189 billion ($22 million) fund which had been withdrawn from its subsidiary company, PT Mandala Airlines.

The House's Commission I for defense and foreign affairs, and Commission IX for finance and state budget, have been assigned to handle the investigation, Muhaimin said.

The two commissions will hold a hearing with the State Audit Agency (BPK) and the Army's Inspectorate General to discuss the results of their separate audits into the foundation's finances.

The Army's Inspectorate General this week cleared Kostrad of any corruption charges in the foundation although it admitted that the foundation's finances had been improperly managed.

BPK has also audited the foundation's finances but the results had not been made public.

Muhaimin said the House's investigation was necessary to ensure public accountability of all the military's businesses, including Kostrad's foundation.

"None of the military units have publicly disclosed the sources of their funds aside from those allocated in the government's budget," he said.

Taufiqurrachman, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction, said the military is not immune to the law.

"We believe that servicemen of whatever ranks should be prosecuted if they are corrupt. This (Kostrad) case will serve as a good lesson for the military," he said.

I Gde Arcana, who led BPK's team in auditing Kostrad's foundation, declined to disclose the audit results to the press, saying that they would only be presented to the House if asked.

"We will present the audit results to the House and let the Attorney General's Office and the court decide whether there are irregularities in the foundation," he said.

Lt. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah, the former Kostrad chief who launched the investigation into the irregularities in April, urged Army leaders on Thursday to turn the case to the court and punish the guilty parties.

"The Kostrad chief is empowered to impose disciplinary sanctions against officers. The case should be brought before the court," he told reporters at his residence in Bulak Rantai, East Jakarta.

He rejected the Army's report which had trivialized the case into an administrative disorder.

The foundation's executives could not properly explain the withdrawal of Rp 189 billion between November and March, he said.

"Col. Fahmi and Col. Tandjung, the foundation's former treasurer and former logistics affairs chief respectively, declined to reveal what the money was used for," he said.

The two officers were suspended from their positions in the foundation but both have assumed new positions in the TNI Headquarters, he said.

Agus was at the height of his campaign to unveil the financial irregularities at the foundation when he was removed from the top Kostrad post in August after only serving less than five months.

He said his campaign was aimed at reforming the foundation's management and not at particular individuals in Kostrad like his predecessor Lt. Gen. Djadja Suparman who was in charge at the time the alleged irregularities occurred.

Army deputy chief Lt. Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said the Army leadership would support further investigation by the Attorney General's Office if irregularities were found in the foundation. (rms)