President Urges Tracing of Embezzled Funds

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged financial officials this week to cooperate with a World Bank initiative aimed at recovering state funds embezzled abroad.

The bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative was launched in September and aims to help developing nations recover assets pilfered by corrupt leaders.

A report launching the initiative named former president Suharto as the worst alleged offender.

“We have to bring back state money stolen and kept abroad. Trace the state money and bring (it) back here,” said Yudhoyono while addressing the Financial Intelligence Unit.

The Unit works under the central bank and monitors flows of funds into and out of Indonesia.

“We have to cooperate with the World Bank, which initiated the Stolen Asset Recovery (Initiative), so that we will be able to trace and bring home state assets in an appropriate way,” he added.

Suharto is accused by Transparency International of stealing US$15 to $35 billion in state assets.

Suharto, who stepped down in 1998, has never been convicted of corruption.

The ageing ex-leader avoided a criminal trial on health grounds, while a civil suit brought by the prosecutor’s office over alleged embezzlement carried out through one of Suharto’s charities is currently being heard.

Officials from the Foreign Ministry, Attorney General’s Office and police have travelled to Washington to discuss the World Bank’s initiative.

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