Supreme Court under graft

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has confiscated documents from the Supreme Court to commence an investigation into the alleged embezzlement of administrative fees.

The probe follows a report from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) that found irregularities in the court's collection of administrative fees from justice seekers.

KPK deputy chairman for prevention Haryono Umar said Tuesday a team of investigators was sent to the Supreme Court on Monday to gather evidence.

"We are also going to check several Supreme Court bank accounts, including one that is registered under the name of Supreme Court chief Bagir Manan," Haryono told The Jakarta Post.

In previous media reports, the BPK had announced the finding of a Rp 7.5 billion bank account under Bagir's name in its 2006 audit report.

Last month, Indonesia Corruption Watch reported the court had collected a total of Rp 31.1 billion (US$3.4 million) in administrative fees between the beginning of 2007 and March 2008.

"The investigation will verify whether there are any irregularities," said Haryono.

Last year, the Supreme Court refused to allow the BPK to audit its annual administrative management report, arguing that administrative fees were not state tax revenue.

The BPK, however, said that all money paid by the public for services received from the state was state revenue.

In line with several Supreme Court decrees, the court charges administrative fees from people appealing cases. For example, appellants must pay Rp 500,000 in a civil case, or Rp 2.5 million for a case review.

The BPK considered the Supreme Court's refusal to be audited a violation of the Public Finance Management Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and a Rp 500 million fine.

Haryono said that as part of the investigation, the KPK will conduct an audit into the financial reports on the administrative fees.

"We will delegate the task to a third party. It could be auditors from the BPK," he said.

The government has yet to issue the promised regulation on the court's administrative fee management procedure, despite the rekindling of the debate between the Supreme Court and the BPK. (dre)

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