Former Top Bureaucrat to Face Prosecutor Probe

SINGARAJA ~ Former Buleleng regency administrative secretary Ketut Ardha is among officials summonsed by Bali’s Public Prosecutor to give evidence in a suspected corruption case involving compensation payments made from the regency’s 2007 budget in relation to a swimming pool project.

Ardha, who left his job as the third most senior bureaucrat in Buleleng at the end of May, is required to appear at the Denpasar Office of the Public Prosecutor next Tuesday, while several recipients of the compensation payments have been served with notices to appear on Monday next week.

The case involves payments made in relation to the acquisition of land in the Banyuasri district of Singaraja for an international-standard swimming pool.

Ardha, who spoke to the media this week in the company of Buleleng regency spokesman Gede Gunawan, said he was confident of his defence as he knew the exact chronology of the acquisition of the land from the provincial government.

He said 21 household heads had been paid compensation because the swimming pool was to be built on land they lived on but the issue had not been referred to the Provincial Office of Agriculture, from whom the land was acquired.

Payments had been made with the approval of Buleleng Regent Putu Bagiada, he said.

Asked why the transfer of the land management rights had not been sent to the provincial legislature for approval, Ardha said this had not been necessary. Article 46 of Regulation 6/2006, covering management of state-owned properties, stipulated that legislative approval was not needed for state-owned land dedicated to the public interest and valued at less than Rp5 billion (US$493,000).

“The land is for the swimming pool as a public facility and is worth less than Rp5 billion,” he said.

In answer to allegations that funds had been misused after the land acquisition, Ardha said the matter was explained fully in executive budget documents.

Another five senior officials in the former Buleleng government are under investigation over diversion of funds from the regency’s 2007 budget.

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