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Corruption Case by Bali Immigration to be Resurrected

Charges Being Prepared Against Key Immigration Officers in US$300,000 Visa Swindle.

(12/14/2009) The misappropriation of the Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) in visa-on-arrival fees committed by immigration officials in Bali between October 2008 and May 2009 is back in the news.

With ranking officials earlier insisting that immigration officials were, after all, "like family" earlier reports indicated that all would be forgiven and forgotten after the wayward immigration officials returned funds squandered from visa-on-arrival fees. More recently, however, reports have surfaced that prosecutors are still preparing to file criminal charges in the case.

Radar Bali after questioning the status of case with Bali prosecutors, the Assistant Chief Prosecutor for Bali, A.F. Darmawan, has confirmed that charges will be filed within the coming month against at least some of the leading officials who pocketed an estimated Rp. 70 to 100 million (US$7,000-US$10,000) each. Said Darmawan: "I personally want the naming of defendant to be done this month. But investigators are still formulating the charges."

Investigators have reportedly interviewed all believed to have been involved in the Rp. 3 billion embezzlement, including the 94 immigration officials who have received administrative sanctions in the form of a reduction in grade by one level and the requirement to repay the stolen funds.

When quizzed as to whether or not all the officials would be charged, Darmawan admitted that there is a possibility that only lead defendants would be brought to justice. "The rest may still be charged later," said one of the prosecutors assigned to the case. This source said that despite the return of the stolen funds by 94 immigration officials, this does not end the case. In fact, according to prosecutors, the return of the money can be cited as proof in the subsequent proceedings on criminal corruption.

The money was reportedly stolen by under-reporting visa-on-arrival fees; submitting US$10 for a 7 day visa when, in fact, US$25 had been paid for a 30 day visa. By rough extrapolation, the loss of $15 per visitor would suggest that visa fees from at least 20,000 visitors over a 5 month period were corrupted.

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