Mysterious Bank Account Might Be the Source of Major Graft Cases
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The Finance Ministry admitted that they have funds deposited in an account designated for “unplanned programs,” which was the alleged source of funding for a number of high-profile graft cases including the avian flu vaccine factory and Hambalang Sport Complex.
But officials insist that the account — called Bank Account 99 — is a common and legitimate vehicle for funding government programs, and said accessing the account still requires approval by the Budget Committee.
“[Bank Account 99] is the budget provided by the government and approved by the House to be used by programs that have not been allocated by ministries or [state] institutions,” Herry Purnomo, the Finance Ministry’s director general, said on Thursday.
Herry, who was reportedly uneasy when asked about the suspicious bank account (and told journalists not to question him like they were prosecutors), did not offer details on how much money is deposited in the account. He said the money was not from the previous year’s unused budget.
Herry said that to use the money, the government still needs approval from the House Budget Committee.
“Of course the Budget Committee knows this — we discuss it with the committee,” he said.
Several graft cases in recent years centered around mysterious funding that lawmakers claimed was not approved through normal channels. The funding for the graft-tainted avian flu vaccine factory and Hambalang Sport Complex was brought into question by Head of House Commission IX Ribka Tjiptaning.
Ribka said that the budget for the bird flu vaccine factory was not taken from the Health Ministry budget, and said House Commission IX never discussed or approved the project. But the construction was still funded by graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin companies Anak Negeri and Anugrah Nusantara.
In a similar case, House of Representative members claim that they never discussed or approved the inflated budget for the Hambalang Sports Facility.
“I was informed that [the bird flu vaccine factory] was not using the Health Ministry budget, but Account 99 of the Finance Ministry,” Ribka said. “The funding method is similar with the Hambalang project.”
While the initial budget was taken from the Bank Account 99, the Health Ministry later requested a budget allocation from the 2010 Revised State Budget to continue the unfinished project, costing some Rp 490 billion ($52 million) which was eventually approved by the House.
Hadiyanto, the finance ministry’s director general for state assets, said that a special bank account like Account 99 was not unique to the Finance Ministry, and said most ministries and state institutions typically have access such “motherless” accounts.
“They can be used,” he said. “But if it is program of Health Ministry, it should be allocated in Health Ministry account.”