Fri, 30 Nov 2001

Strong team to combat money laundering

Abu Hanifah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia, struggling to shed its image as a haven for world class money launderers, plans to set up a commission to combat the rampant illegal activity.

The Anti-Money Laundering Commission will wield wide-ranging authority which will include the summoning of suspects, investigatory powers, the tracing of suspicious bank accounts and taking perpetrators to court.

The bill that will become the legal basis for the commission is currently under deliberation in the House of Representatives and is expected to be passed into law early next year.

The plan was explained by Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno, who is also the interim Minister for Justice and Human Rights.

The commission will comprise government officials, police and financial experts.

Hari said that, in addition to the absence of laws on money laundering, Indonesia is a haven for launderers because of its geographic location, sandwiched between Australia and Asia and between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Criminals use Indonesian banks to deposit their ill-gotten money in order to give the impression that the money comes from legal businesses.

Hari said that among those laundering their ill-gotten money in Indonesia were drug dealers, people traffickers, terrorists and corruptors.

Director General for Justice and Legislation at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry Abdul Gani, who accompanied Hari, said that the anti-money laundering commission will have the authority to check on the suspect's bank account after notifying the Central Bank (BI).

Bank secrecy laws will not apply to the commission in its task.

"The team will simply be required to inform Bank Indonesia that it will trace the suspect's bank account," Abdul said.

The House is likely to endorse the long-awaited bill. Legislators have said that the bill is urgent and expected that it will be passed into law in the upcoming House session early next year.