Jakarta. The National Police have opened an inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Indonesian Armed Forces Social Insurance, or Asabri, taking the lid off another potential scandal in a financial industry already ridden with billion-dollar graft cases.
Earlier this week, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud M.D., said Asabri, which manages life insurance funds belonging to close to a million Indonesian soldiers and police officers, had allegedly misappropriated the money under their care and lost between Rp 10 trillion and Rp 16 trillion ($730 million-$1.2 billion).
The losses are on par with those of another state-owned life insurer under criminal investigation, Asuransi Jiwasraya, which reportedly lost Rp 13.7 trillion from the state's coffer.
The Attorney General Office decided this week there was enough evidence of corruption in Jiwasraya to prosecute five suspects.
Now the police are closing in on Asabri.
"I have ordered the Kabareskrim to create a joint team [to investigate the insurer]," said National Police Chief Idham Azis said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The Kabareskrim is the chief of the National Police Criminal Investigation Unit, Listyo Sigit Prabowo.
The joint team, Idham said, will begin the inquiry to find evidence of alleged fund misappropriations in Asabri.
"We are in the verification stage of the investigation. We're monitoring the progress," Idham said.
Minister Mahfud had pleaded with the public to trust the police, instead of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), with the Asabri investigation.
"Because out of the 940,000 to 980,000 [Asabri customers], 600,000 are police officers," Mahfud said on Thursday.
The National Police must feel a moral obligation to complete the inquiry into Asabri since it is their officers' money that the insurer lost, according to Mahfud.
"Also, according to the law, a corruption case under the KPK's investigation could also be investigated by the police or the prosecutor's office. But a case being handled by the police or the prosecutor's office may not also be handled by the KPK," Mahfud said.
Asabri Denies Allegation
Asabri President Director Sonny Widjaja has denied the allegation that the insurer misappropriated their customers' insurance funds.
"I guarantee the money is safe. It is not lost, and there is no corruption," Sonny said on Thursday.
Sonny asked the public, especially Asabri's customers, to not be provoked easily by the rumors of corruption.
"People should not be provoked by unverified news about Asabri. I stress, the rumors are not true," Sonny said.
Sonny said he would take Asabri's accusers to court if they persist with their allegations.