Former Health Minister Jailed for Corruption

By webadmin on 12:43 am Apr 24, 2010
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Armando Siahaan

The Anti-Corruption Court on Friday sentenced Achmad Sujudi, the nation’s former health minister, to two years and three months in jail for his role in a 2003 graft case that involved inflating the budget for contracts to supply medical equipment to remote regions.

“He is guilty of corruption,” Judge Jupriadi said at the court hearing, adding that the court ordered Achmad to pay Rp 100 million ($11,100) in fines or face an additional three months in prison. The sentence was lighter than the five years demanded by prosecutors, and the prosecution’s demand that Achmad pay Rp 700 million to the state as compensation was also rejected.

Instead, the court ordered the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to return the Rp 700 million Achmad had handed over to the state via the KPK after he was declared a corruption suspect. The court said that during the course of the trial no proof had been presented that Achmad had received that money as kickbacks for granting the firms government contracts.

Achmad, 69, who served under former President Abdurrahman Wahid, was declared a suspect last year. According to KPK investigators, he admitted to accepting Rp 700 million in kickbacks from PT Kimia Farma Trading and PT Rifa Jaya Mulia, in return for providing them with contracts.

The companies allegedly inflated the budget of the contracts to supply medical equipment to 32 hospitals in eastern Indonesia. The KPK found that had cost the state Rp 104 billion.

The court said on Friday that Achmad abused his authority as minister by directly appointing the company instead of conducting a tender. Achmad was also found guilty of not taking any action after knowing that the project had been sub-contracted to other companies.

KPK deputy commissioner Bibit Samad Rianto noted last year that Achmad and executives from the two companies had manipulated the per-unit equipment prices by up to 5,000 percent above retail.

Achmad had used a ministerial decree to directly appoint Kimia Farma Trading as the ministry’s partner in a project to procure medical equipment scheduled for distribution to the hospitals.

“I received no benefit from this. What is important, though, is that the medical equipment has been distributed and reached the hospitals,” Achmad said immediately following the sentencing. He has seven days to appeal and is still weighing his options.

Humphrey Djemat, Achmad’s lawyer, said he is disappointed with the court’s decision.

“[Achmad] never received any money from his partners,” Humphrey said. “But he was still declared guilty.”

The Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday sentenced Gunawan Pranoto and Rinaldi Yusuf, directors of the partner companies, to six years and five years in jail, respectively, for their involvement in the graft case.