Nani Afrida, Jakarta – Apparently exploiting loopholes in monitoring mechanisms, a former high-ranking Defense Ministry official is alleged to have embezzled budget funds during his four-year tenure at the ministry. The allegations follow the discovery of irregularities in the ministry's cash flows.
The suspect, Brig. Gen. Teddy Hernayadi, headed up the ministry's finance division from 2010 until 2014, before returning to the Army. The ministry has reported the official to the Army's internal affairs division (POMAD) for alleged embezzlement.
The ministry's inspector-general Vice Marshal Ismono Wijayanto confirmed on Friday that POMAD was investigating the case and that Teddy was now in military police detention.
The ministry reported the case to POMAD after allegedly finding evidence that Teddy had abused his authority by disbursing funds without approval from his superiors and had falsified their signatures.
Ismono declined to put a figure on the incurred state losses resulting from Teddy's alleged actions. However, based on information obtained by The Jakarta Post, the corrupted funds amount to Rp 60 billion (US$4,569,000). If found guilty, Teddy might face permanent dismissal from the Army.
The ministry is apparently tracking down other officials who may have been involved in graft. "Today, people often assume that the ministry is riddled with corruption. Therefore, we must clean this place up," Ismono said.
The ministry has proclaimed zero tolerance for corruption since the beginning of the Reform Era in 1998. However, the ministry's finances have been described as hard to assess, and the ministry has been blamed for not being transparent in costly weaponry procurement.
According to Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International, Indonesia remains a country with a "high risk" of corruption particularly in the defense and military sector.
The watchdog rated the country's defense and military sector in the "D" category in 2015, which indicates high risk, slightly better than the 2014 score of "E", which indicates a very high risk. Scores for the index, which assesses 135 countries across the globe, range from "A" for very low risk, to "F" for very critical risk.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and the Philippines scored the same risk level as Indonesia, while Cambodia and Myanmar received an F.
The high corruption risk in Indonesia's defense sector is attributed to the long-standing secrecy surrounding procurement in military projects, in which military leaders are not transparent about spending and block any attempted scrutiny from the public.
Apparently trying to improve the institution's image, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said his ministry would from now on be proactive in disclosing corruption cases and would not try to hide them from the public. "What we should open, we will open. All the corruption cases should be processed, we must have zero tolerance for corruption," Ryamizard said on Friday.