Jakarta – The national antigraft agency will assist police to investigate 56 fictitious villages in Konawe district, Southeast Sulawesi, allegedly used to siphon funds from the state budget.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati raised the issue early this week, by saying state funds had gone to ghost villages with no residents. The government has been allocating Rp 1 billion ($71,000) annually for every village or urban ward in the country since 2015 to equalize development levels in the regions.
Laode M. Syarif, deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said the agency would assist police in the investigation until the case was finalized.
"The KPK will help resolve this case and ensure that it is properly settled with a permanent legal force," Syarif told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The Southeast Sulawesi Police previously requested assistance from the KPK and the National Police's Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) to investigate the case.
"We asked for assistance and supervision from the KPK and Bareskrim. We are handling the case with the KPK and with Bareskrim as a backup," South Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Iriyanto said earlier.
Police in the province have been investigating the case since August and specifically requested an audit by the KPK.
They suspect that data may have been manipulated to list the 56 villages as fund recipients, despite having yet to be established under a provincial regulation.
The central government is responsible for allocating village funds in the annual state budget. However, district heads are responsible for fund disbursements and administration.