Greasing palms without leaving stains

Greasing palms without leaving stains
ASSETS: Former two-star police general Djoko Susilo listening to the verdict at his trial. He was found to have 20 houses and other assets across Java that were in the names of his second and third wives.

As Indonesia steps up its fight against corruption, individuals offering or accepting dishonest money have resorted to new ways of getting around the law.

In one case, a senior Customs official who helped a businessman evade tax received investment- linked insurance plans worth 11.4 billion rupiah (S$1.25 million) bought in his name and that of his mistress.

In another case, a civil servant was given an ATM card to an account that held one billion rupiah.

These methods, which do away with direct "cash in a bag" transactions of the past, come as anti- corruption agency KPK's efforts yield the arrest of a high-level official almost every month.

Among those nabbed is the chief justice of the country's constitutional court, who is accused of taking bribes from parties embroiled in local election disputes.

The courts, on their part, have handed down stiffer sentences in recent cases. Former two-star police general Djoko Susilo, who enriched himself in a multimillion- dollar procurement project, was jailed for 10 years and fined in September.

In the case involving the former head of Customs enforcement at Tanjung Priok port, Heru Sulistyono, 46, investigators found evidence that businessman Yusran Amir had used his colleagues to channel 11 insurance policies to Heru and his mistress. The policies were redeemed before they matured and the funds transferred to the woman's bank account.

Mr Agus Santoso, the deputy head of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, which combats money laundering, said Heru's case is not an isolated one.

"This has become a trend among mid-career public servants. Funds could be withdrawn after retirement, or before," Mr Agus told reporters.

Those offering bribes usually make a one-time payment upfront for a policy which is in the official's name. But because the premium can be as much as one billion rupiah, this can raise suspicions, Mr Agus said.

Hence some officials ask for the bribe money to be invested in fixed assets such as landed property, which can be transferred to his name or that of a family member or given as a gift.

For instance, Djoko was found to have 20 houses and other assets across Java that were in the names of his second and third wives. His father-in-law also had a petrol station registered in his name.

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