Jakarta. The Counter-Terrorism National Agency (BNPT) on Friday called for stricter regulations on charity organizations amid concern that they are being used by radical groups to collect funding under the disguise of religious charities.
Existing government regulations on charity organizations deal only with bureaucratic procedures without supervisory functions, BNPT Prevention Director Brig. Gen. Ahmad Nurwakhid said.
“There are no specific regulations on accountability and sanctions in case of fraud, misappropriation, and misuse of [charity] funds,” Ahmad said.
“Charity institutions’ activities are regulated by the Social Affairs Ministry, which needs to collaborate with other related ministries to introduce new regulations and prevent loopholes that can be exploited by radical and terror groups to collect funds through charities,” he added.
His remarks came after the Social Affairs Ministry revoked license of Muslim charity group Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) following reports of fantastic monthly salaries received by the group’s top executives.
Former ACT Chairman Ahyudin was reportedly paid Rp 250 million ($16,700) a month, 54 times the minimum wage of a worker in Jakarta.
The group claimed to have channeled humanitarian aid to Palestine and donated money for mosque construction in Australia.
It used social media posts to collect donations by telling sad stories of disaster victims or poor people with serious illness. ACT also arranged crowdfunding for mosque constructions across the country and beyond.
Tempo magazine reported last week that ACT received Rp 135 billion in funding from U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing to build 91 school buildings as compensation for the October 28, 2018 fatal flight of a Lion Air plane.
The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the country’s anti-money laundering agency, said that ACT has managed around Rp 1 trillion in public funds a year.
At least 300 ACT bank accounts in 41 financial institutions have been frozen in recent days, PPATK Chairman Ivan Yustiavandana said on Thursday.
The stern move came over indications of fraud and suspicious transactions by ACT executives, he said.
The National Police said they are investigating allegations that ACT’s money may have been channeled to radical groups based on PPATK findings.
BNPT actively assists law-enforcement agencies in the investigation into charity groups suspected of terror funding, Ahmad said.
Most Generous Country
BNPT has detected a growing number of radical groups using charity organizations to finance their activities, Ahmad said without going into details.
Indonesia has become a breeding ground for malicious charity groups due to the high level of generosity among its people, Ahmad said.
The latest report by London-based Charities Aid Foundation shows that Indonesia is the most generous country in the world.
“More than eight in ten Indonesians have donated money in the past year and Indonesia's rate of volunteering is more than three times the global average,” according to the CAF report in 2021.
Police said last year shadowy radical group Jemaah Islamiyah has raised funds by deploying charity boxes at minimarkets in several regions throughout Indonesia to trick the unsuspecting shoppers into giving money that would go into the group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings.
According to police, the money was used to send militants to war zones like Syria and acquire weapons and explosives, among other things.
Hundreds of donation boxes were seized during counter-terror operations in the province of Lampung late last year.