Jakarta. Prosecutors have accused Bekasi Mayor Mochtar Mohammad of masterminding a bribery scandal that saw state auditors paid off in exchange for giving the city’s finances a clean bill of health.
The allegation is the latest headache for the mayor, who is the subject of scathing public criticism after ordering the closure of churches in his city.
Prosecutors at the Anti-Corruption Court made the bribery accusation on Monday at the trial of Herry Lukmantohari, Bekasi’s inspectorate chief, and Heri Suparjan, its finance chief.
Prosecutors from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) have indicted both men with violating the 2001 Anti-Corruption Law. Each faces a maximum of five years in jail.
“The defendants conspired with Tjandra Utama Effendi and Mochtar Muhammad to provide Rp 400 million to Suharto and Enang Hermawan,” lead prosecutor Rudi Margono said.
Tjandra is the city secretary, while Suharto and Enang are auditors from the West Java office of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). All three were also named suspects in the case and are scheduled to be tried separately. Mochtar has not been charged.
The alleged bribery centers around a BPK audit conducted last year.
Prosecutors said the BPK originally planned to give the Bekasi financial statement a disclaimer, meaning it had accounting weaknesses or missing facts.
“If Bekasi had received the [warning], it would have received an incentive of only Rp 18 billion [$2 million] from the Finance Ministry,” the indictment said.
“However, Mochtar told Lukmantohari and Suparjan that if the city received no disclaimer, it could get up to Rp 40 billion.
“Mochtar then asked if it was possible to bribe BPK officials, and instructed the defendants to prepare money to be given after the BPK had issued an unqualified opinion report.”
In January, Lukmantohari and Suparjan visited Suharto and Enang and told them they would get Rp 400 million “if the auditors could help Bekasi get a statement minus the disclaimer,” the KPK prosecutors alleged.
The mayor and Lukmantohari met the head of the BPK West Java office, Gunawan Sidauruk, in February. Gunawan suggested the city refine its report, but Mochtar opted to offer a bribe instead, prosecutors alleged.
They added that Suharto and Enang reported to Gunawan that the Bekasi officials had tried to bribe them. “I want you to help Bekasi,” prosecutors quoted Gunawan as saying.
The KPK has grilled Mochtar twice but he has denied knowing about the payoff, saying Tjandra was in charge of the city coffers.
The mayor also faces fierce criticism for shutting down at least two churches and removing a statue, following pressure from hard-line Islamic groups.