by Abu Hanifah
JAKARTA, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia's anti-corruption drive gained momentum through the recent signing of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) agreement with Switzerland, enabling Indonesia to seize fraudulent money stashed in Swiss banks.
The MLA agreement was signed in Bern on Monday. Indonesia's legal and human rights minister Yasonna Laoly, who signed the agreement with Swiss justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter, said here that the deal can be used to target domestic tax evaders as well as seize their funds stashed in Swiss banks.
The MLA contains articles that stipulate legal assistance to track down origin of funds, freeze the funds as well as confiscate the assets originated from crimes, Laoly said.
"This agreement was part of Indonesia's efforts to assure tax compliance among Indonesian citizens or firms and avoid from committing tax frauds," Laoly said on Tuesday.
The MLA uses retroactive principle, applicable for tax fraud cases that occurred before the agreement was signed, as long as the verdict has yet to be issued by the courts, he said.
The MLA agreement with Switzerland is expected to benefit Indonesia, which has seen rampant corruption cases involving senior officials and errant tax evaders who often stash their illegal funds in foreign countries.
"The MLA also shows Indonesia's steadfast commitment for not tolerating any form of corruption as well as money laundering," Laoly said.
Laoly also emphasized the importance of international agreement as the legal platform in eradicating corruption and seizing national assets stolen by corrupters.
The Indonesian government has applied online system to organize public administration papers as well as the budgeting system in regional administration. The government also encouraged people to actively take part in anti-corruption drive by providing rewards for those reporting corruption acts.
Indonesia's Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro has said that there were at least 84 Indonesians identified to have stashed a total of 195 billion U.S. dollars of ill-gotten money in Swiss banks.