Hambalang Saga Expanding
Another high-profile figure has been linked to the corruption-rife Hambalang sports center project, with investigators revealing on Monday that they had called in Probosutedjo, the half-brother of former strongman Suharto, as a witness in the case.
Priharsa Nugraha, a spokesman for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said that Probosutedjo was called in as the owner of Buana Estate, the company that owned the 30-hectare lot where the sports center is located.
“He is being treated as a witness against the suspect D.K.,” Priharsa said, referring to former Sports Ministry official Deddy Kusdinar, one of the two suspects charged over the graft-tainted administration of the Rp 2.5 trillion ($260 million) project.
However, the 82-year-old Probosutedjo failed to show up for questioning at the KPK office on Monday, citing ill health.
“We had actually scheduled a questioning session today with Probosutedjo, but he did not appear because he was sick,” said Johan Budi, another KPK spokesman.
The KPK previously questioned Probosutedjo’s daughter, Rita Ria Kurnianta, as a witness in the same case. Rita is the chief director of Buana Estate. During the questioning back in September, Rita was asked about the status of the land, said her lawyer, Ariano.
At the time, he stressed that although the Sports Ministry had already begun construction of the sports center at the site in Hambalang, Bogor, the land still technically belonged to Buana Estate.
“Buana Estate has never relinquished ownership of the said land,” Ariano said. He added that the company had never been paid for the land and that no documents were signed or issued with regard to transferring ownership or land use rights to the ministry.
The question of the land purchase is just one of several aspects in the Hambalang case where investigators have uncovered indications of irregularities and graft.
An inquiry by the House of Representatives in July found that although the Sports Ministry under former minister Adhyaksa Dault had allocated money for the acquisition in 2004 and 2008, his successor, Andi Mallarangeng, issued fresh funding for that very purpose in 2009 — which essentially meant the land was paid for twice.
The site was initially acquired by the government at a price of Rp 22,000 per square meter, or a total Rp 6.87 billion.
In another strange twist, a Bogor district decree issued in 2004 listed the acquisition price offered to residents as just Rp 6,600 per square meter. Some residents claimed they received as little as Rp 1,000 a square meter for their land.
Hendarman Supandji, the National Land Agency (BPN) chairman, has acknowledged the discrepancy in the price and promised to investigate.
The second time around that the land was purchased, the Sports Ministry allocated Rp 125 billion — more than 18 times what Adhyaksa had initially paid for it.
Andi, of the Democratic Party, was earlier this month named the second criminal suspect in the case by the KPK, prompting his resignation as the sports minister.
Others questioned in the case, which the KPK began investigating in August 2011, include former BPN chief Joyo Winoto and Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum.
Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former Democratic Party treasurer convicted earlier this year in a separate bid-rigging case linked to the Sports Ministry, has repeatedly accused Anas of taking a Rp 100 billion kickback to rig the awarding of the Hambalang contract.
Anas’s wife, Athiyya Laila, has also been grilled by the KPK for her role in one of the shell companies involved in the project. However, neither she nor her husband have been named suspects in the case, which the Supreme Audit Agency says resulted in state losses of up to Rp 243 billion.