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Indonesian watchdog seeks `missing` 22 bln dlrs

07/10/08 11:05

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia's corruption watchdog has opened an investigation into suspicions that about 22 billion dollars worth of state oil and gas revenues have been lost, an official said Thursday.

Senior regulators from state oil and gas oversight body BP Migas have been questioned after an audit found unexplained losses of about 200 trillion rupiah (22 billion dollars), the anti-corruption official said.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman Johan Budi said so far no evidence of graft had been found and the probe was part of the watchdog's routine enquiries.

He did not elaborate but another commission official told the Antara news agency there were discrepancies in the amount of oil and gas being pumped out of the ground and the amount being declared.

"We have invited them (BP Migas) to explain the mechanisms in oil and gas exploration. There are state assets that may have been reported incorrectly," Budi told AFP.

"There are no individuals suspected of corruption. This is part of our prevention policy."

KPK deputy for prevention Haryono Umar told Antara that BP Migas did not cross-check production reports from oil and gas companies.

"We need a guarantee that the information is valid," he said.

Umar said BP Migas and the KPK had agreed to form a technical team to investigate the discrepancies and close any loopholes.

The KPK was set up after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998 and has recently targeted core institutions including the central bank, the supreme court and the attorney general's office.