Jakarta. The Corruption Eradication Commission had laid a second charge against an official from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in connection with a solar energy project corruption scandal.
Jacobus Purwono, director general of electricity, and Kosasih Abbas, chief of renewable energy, were named suspects in June for their alleged involvement in a tender rigging and budget inflation case connected to a solar energy project aimed at providing electricity to remote villages in 2007 and 2008.
Johan Budi, a spokesman for the antigraft body, also known as the KPK, said on Monday that last week the body named Jacobus as a suspect for a similar scheme in 2009.
For the 2009 case, the KPK also named Ridwan Sanjaya, a ministry official who was in charge of the project’s procurement process.
“We suspected that there had been a budget inflation that cost the state Rp 150 billion [$16.7 million] in losses,” Johan said. “This is a continuation of our investigation into the 2007 and 2008 case.”
The spokesman added that there were similarities in both cases. Jacobus and the other two officials are accused of receiving kickbacks from companies bidding on the project in exchange for naming them winners of the tender processes.
In 2007 alone, the ministry installed 33,000 solar panels across 30 provinces, with each able to produce as much as 4.5 kilowatts per day.
The commission estimated Rp 119 billion in state losses from the 2007-2008 projects, which were valued at more than Rp 1 trillion.
Johan added that the three allegedly received at least Rp 4.6 billion in kickbacks from project contractors. The pair later claimed the money was ‘tactical funds’ from contractors to avoid detection.
The commission had been looking into the case for the past few months and had been able to gather enough evidence to charge the officials with violating Articles 2, 3, 5 and 11 of the 1999 Law on Corruption, which carry a combined maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“It is possible that the case could develop further and more suspects could be named,” Johan said.
Energy Minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh told reporters that he would not intervene in the legal process.
“I don’t want to rush into a conclusion as to whether the allegations are true or not. I just hope the legal process is fair and just,” the minister was quoted by Antara as saying.
Jacobus could not be reached for comment.