Tue, 10 Jun 2003

`I'm ready to quit,' says KONI secretary

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After a secret transfer of funds from the National Sports Council (KONI) to an account of the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) made national headlines, KONI secretary-general Oyong Karmayudha announced on Monday that he was ready to quit his post if he was found guilty of violating procedures.

"If I am found guilty of wrongdoing with this transfer of funds, I'm ready to accept the worst. I'm ready to quit," Oyong said.

Oyong and KONI deputy treasurer Irawadi D. Hanafi, who is also an official of PSSI, could be held responsible for the unauthorized transfer of Rp 4 billion (US$500,000) from KONI's account at Bank BNI to PSSI's account at Bank Mandiri.

The two KONI officials were the signatories on the transfer receipt.

KONI chairman Agum Gumelar, who also chairs PSSI, said he had not been informed about the transfer.

However, it was not until May 19 that the transfer was leaked to the media when copies of the transfer receipt were anonymously faxed to a number of local publications.

While the move has prompted allegations of the misappropriation of funds for a group's own interests, Oyong said the motive behind the transfer was purely to increase the bank's interest given the fact that Bank Mandiri pays a higher rate of interest than Bank BNI.

Bank Mandiri pays depositors a monthly interest rate of 2.5 percent, compared to Bank BNI's yearly interest rate of 13 percent (1.08 percent a month).

When questioned why Agum had not been informed about the transfer, Oyong said the KONI chief did not need to know about it.

Tri Goestoro, the secretary-general of PSSI, confirmed the transferred amount last week, saying that the money had been allocated to finance the national soccer team's preparations. But Agum later amended his statement and said that the move was purely to augment the bank's interest rate.

Agum recently announced the establishment of a four-member investigative team led by Oong Wiradinata from the KONI audit commission. The team has been given a week from Monday to probe the case.

Agum met with officials of the KONI-affiliated sports organizations later on Monday, but he refused to give an explanation for the meeting. "No comment. KONI has no comment," he said, while walking away.

Some of the chiefs of the sports organizations gave various responses to the issue.

Tigor Tanjung from the Indonesian Amateur Athletics Association (PASI) said the investigative team had to be given sufficient time to clear the matter.

However, he made no attempt to hide his suspicion about the transfer.

"If the motive was to obtain a higher deposit rate, why didn't they open a new account under KONI's name?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Andhy Gani Nena, the KONI chief in charge of the business and industry commission, said that the transfer had followed procedures.

"Two of the four KONI functionaries -- either the chairman, secretary-general, the treasurer or his deputy -- can authorize the proceedings," he said.