Indonesian tycoon Siti Hartati Murdaya claimed that she did not intend to bribe Buol District Chief Amran Batalipu, but only to give him a donation for maintaining good relations in the community.
She said the money that her employee Yani Anshori was handing over to Amran — who was arrested on Friday on graft charges — was “social funding.”
Hartati said that because Hardaya Inti, her palm oil plantation, is the largest company in Buol, Central Sulawesi, she’s “expected to give donations to the regional government. Why is a donation seen as bribery?” Hartati told Tempo.co.
Hartati, who was a major supporter of President Susilo Bambang Yuhdoyono’s campaign during the the 2009 presidential election, said that the donation was meant to subdue conflict between her employees and a group of locals.
“I asked the district chief to help handle it,” Hartati said. “He asked for a donation, and we gave it to him.”
She claimed that she did not know the technical details of the donation, saying she only approved it, and left her staff to do the rest.
Amran was taken to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office in Jakarta after being arrested early on Friday. Amran fled from KPK investigators when they caught him red handed receiving the bribe (or donation) from Anshori.
The KPK has named Amran, Anshori and Gondo Sudjono, operational director of the plantation, as suspects. It also issued a travel ban on Hartati, to which she responded: “The KPK should not be worried. I was born here and will die here. Do I look like someone who would bribe?”
But KPK Deputy Chairman Bambang Widjojanto said on Saturday that the commission might name other suspects in the case. However, he added that the commission does not yet plan to question Hartati or name her as a suspect.