Indonesian agency freezes bank accounts related to outlawed hardline group FPI

Police take down signage at the headquarters of Indonesian hardline organisation FPI in Jakarta on Dec 30, 2020.
Police take down signage at the headquarters of Indonesian hardline organisation FPI in Jakarta on Dec 30, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia's anti-money laundering agency has temporarily frozen bank accounts belonging to the recently outlawed Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and its affiliated groups on suspicion of money laundering.

Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) public affairs unit head Natsir Kongah said on Tuesday (Jan 6) that the move was in line with a 2010 law on money laundering and a 2013 law on the prevention and eradication of terrorism funding.

"We have decided to suspend any transaction and activities coming from the accounts of the FPI and its affiliations to support an analysis and financial investigation into suspicious transactions, with indications of money laundering or connection to other crimes," Mr Natsir said as quoted by tempo.co on Tuesday.

The PPATK has the power to request financial service providers to block suspicious transactions, he said.

The agency has received 59 notifications from various financial service providers pertaining to the suspension of financial transactions performed by the FPI and its affiliated groups.

FPI lawyer Aziz Yanuar confirmed on Wednesday that the PPATK had frozen 59 bank accounts connected to the group, tribunnews.com reported. He declined to provide further details, saying only that "from what I understand, those (accounts) are the FPI's official bank accounts".

PPATK's Mr Natsir said the centre would continue analysing the transactions and formally hand over the results to law enforcement agencies if they confirmed their suspicions.

The government issued on Dec 30 a joint ministerial decree banning the hardline Islamist group and its activities. These were on the grounds that its organisational license had expired, it had engaged in vigilantism, its statute contradicted the Pancasila state ideology and that some of its members were implicated in terrorism activities.

"The government has banned all FPI activities and will stop any events organised by the FPI because it no longer has legal ground, neither as a mass organisation nor as any other kind of organisation," Coordinating Political, Law and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said at the time.

But only hours after the government outlawed the FPI, the group's leaders announced the establishment of a new organisation, Front Persatuan Islam (United Islamic Front), which also carries the FPI initials.

The outlawed FPI is known for its raids on brothels, bars and nightclubs, particularly during the Ramadan fasting month, and for its attacks on religious minorities and any movement it perceives to be a violation of Islamic norms, including Ahmadiyah and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.