Rizky Amelia & Arientha Primanita
Anas Urbaningrum, chairman of the president’s Democratic Party, was interrogated by the Corruption Eradication Commission on Wednesday regarding his role in the Rp 2.5 trillion ($265 million) Hambalang sports complex scandal.
Witnesses have testified in court that Anas took kickbacks for rigging the project’s tender, but this was the first time he was questioned in the case. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono watched the event closely through a live TV broadcast from his residence in Cikeas, West Java.
The antigraft body, known as the KPK, asked Anas about the project’s tender, financial transactions and the land title deed to determine his role in the scandal, which could decide the fate of the ruling party and its top officials, including the president’s youngest son, Edhie “Ibas” Yudhoyono.
“I was asked about Hambalang, and I said I did not know about it,” Anas told reporters after the seven-hour questioning session that was tightly guarded.
He said the KPK asked whether he ordered Ignatius Mulyono, a Democratic lawmaker and member of the House of Representatives’ Commission III for legal affairs, to prepare a land certificate for the sports center in Bogor as soon as possible.
“I said I never ordered anything,” Anas told reporters.
Several witnesses have accused Anas of taking a kickback in the project. Graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin, the Democratic Party’s former treasurer, claimed in court that Anas took Rp 100 billion.
His allegation may be backed up by graft suspect Angelina Sondakh, the party’s former deputy secretary general who is being detained by the KPK, a source inside the antigraft body recently said.
Angelina and Nazaruddin allegedly met Anas and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng several times to discuss how to push the project forward while arranging for the House to approve Rp 2.5 trillion for it, despite a study suggesting the land was tectonically unstable.
The KPK questioned Anas only after the it arrested Neneng Sri Wahyuni, Nazaruddin’s wife, last week.
Neneng may provide enough new evidence against Anas to name him a suspect, said Uchok Sky Khadafi of the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra).
Uchok said Neneng knew who took graft money from the Permai Group, a company founded by Anas and Nazaruddin to collect money they received from acting as brokers in dozens of government procurement projects. Neneng was the Permai Group’s financial director.
If the KPK names Anas a suspect, Yudhoyono, who wants to restore his party’s dwindling popularity, could remove him from the party without creating resentment among party members.
Yudhoyono could also use Nazaruddin and Neneng to defend Ibas from potential counterclaims by Anas, Uchok added, saying that the pair could contradict Anas’s potential accusations against Ibas and take away their merit.
While on the run last year, Nazaruddin repeatedly mentioned that Ibas was involved in corruption cases with him and Anas during interviews with several Indonesian TV broadcasters.
However, Ibas’s name did not appear in Nazaruddin’s statements after he was arrested by the KPK in August last year.