JAKARTA (Kyodo) A Japanese employee at the Indonesian Embassy in Tokyo allegedly skimmed nearly $1.2 million from applications made to the mission’s visa section in Japan, an Indonesian Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

Diene S. Muhario, the ministry’s inspector general, told Kyodo News the scheme allegedly involved overcharging each visa applicant by 4,000 yen, cash that allegedly went straight into the Japanese employee’s pocket. The employee was identified only by his initials Y.S.

Diene said the scam, which apparently began in January 2004 and lasted until an Indonesian Foreign Ministry investigation last month, was abetted by an erroneous entry in a travel guidebook published by a Japanese travel association that indicated the charge for an Indonesian visa was 4,000 yen higher than the real cost.

“So people assumed that the overcharge was official, which was actually illegal. And the money went into the person’s pocket,” Diene said.

Later, when asked if the Japanese staff member will be reported to local police, she said: “Of course, when the time comes. . . . We are still in the process of investigation. There will be surely some sanctions imposed on the suspected staff member.”

Diene said the practice of charging illegal fees at the Tokyo mission from January 2004 through last month was worth 11 billion rupiah ($1.19 million), and was mostly related to visa extensions.

According to her, the investigation was launched after the Indonesian Foreign Ministry received complaints from Japanese businesspeople upon their arrival in Indonesia.

“If it is not settled, it will indirectly affect bilateral relations,” Diene told reporters after attending a hearing with a House of Representatives commission dealing with foreign affairs.

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