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Prosecutors to Pursue Immigration Corruption Scandal?

Radar Bali: Prosecutors May File Criminal Charges Following Administrative Sanctions Given to 44 Bali Airport Immigration Officers.

(8/17/2009) As reported on balidiscovery.com, State Auditors recently uncovered the misappropriation of Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) in visa-on-arrival fees committed by 44 members of the immigration service assigned to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Plans to bring the case to a quick resolution via the requirement to repay the state its lost revenues and the imposition of administrative sanctions against the 44 civil servants may not be enough to satisfy State Prosecutors who are threatening to bring the immigration officers to court. According to Radar Bali, prosecutors are accumulating data in an ongoing investigation into the case.

An unnamed prosecutor explained to Radar Bali: "If everyone caught in an act of corruption only had to repay state funds to avoid a trial, there would never be any corruption cases brought before the courts. In fact, the return of the state funds (in this case) can be seen as strong proof that a mistake or crime has been committed."

As reported previously, the State suffered a loss of Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) between October 2008 and May 2009 when 44 airport immigration officers under-reported fees collected for visas-on-arrival. Based on a written decision issued by the Minister of Law and Human Rights, the 44 civil servants received a reduction in rank and were each compelled to repay the State a sum between Rp. 70 and Rp. 100 million..

The prosecutor told the paper that he would attempt to enforce the law without bias or favor, saying, "whoever breaks or opposes the law must be prepared to accept responsibility for their acts before the courts."

The same source cited the misuse of the visa-on-arrival funds as a manipulation of non-tax state revenues. The case at the Bali airport represented a misuse of authority and, as such, should be considered an act of corruption. Adding: "Even though they have returned the money prior to a criminal investigation being launched, their intent to misappropriate State funds is sufficiently proven to make a case of corruption."

When approached by Radar Bali, the Provincial Chief for the Department of Law and Human Rights, Arman Nazar, refused to comment on the case, saying it was the right of the prosecutors or the Anti-Corruption Board (KPK) to seek to continue the case.

Nonetheless, Arman did say that the punishments handed out to the immigration officers was sufficiently severe. The reduction in one grade of rank, he explained, was the equivalent of having the four years of a promotion rotation tossed away. "To be promoted one grade you need four years of service. If someone goes down one rank, that means the past four years have been for nothing," he said.

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