Indonesian Watchdog Urges KPK to Name Suspects in 2004 Social Affairs Ministry Graft Case
The country’s most prominent antigraft watchdog is urging the Corruption Eradication Commission to announce the mastermind behind two 2004 corruption cases involving the Ministry of Social Affairs, which cost the state a total of more than Rp 15 billion ($1.6 million).
The Indonesia Corruption Watch said it regretted so much secrecy had surrounded the development of the two cases, which have been under investigation by the commission, also known as the KPK, since 2007.
In December, the KPK said that the cases had moved into the latter stages of the investigation and that someone had been charged with a corruption-related offense, but it has, to this day, has refused to disclose any names.
“The KPK must announce who the suspects are,” ICW deputy chairman Emerson Yuntho said on Sunday. “The cases have been frozen for a long time and secrecy about the progress of the investigation will only taint the credibility of the KPK.”
Bibit Samad Rianto, KPK deputy chairman, said, “there are other considerations as to why the KPK has not announced its findings.”
“We have named someone as a suspect, the case has moved forward. That is all I am allowed to say,” Bibit told the Jakarta Globe.
A source at the KPK said the suspect could only be identified as “BC” and had been charged last month. The source, however, also refused to elaborate.
Several witnesses have been summoned in relation to the case, but the only person with the initials “BC” is Bachtiar Chamsyah, the former minister of social affairs.
KPK officials refused to comment on the matter and the former minister could also not be reached for comment.
Bachtiar is now the secretary general of the United Development Party (PPP), one of Indonesia’s oldest political parties. After serving three terms as a lawmaker, Bachtiar became minister in 2001 under the administration of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Shortly after ending his term as minister in 2004, the Supreme Audit Agency released a damning report, saying that as many as 70 projects in the Social Affairs Ministry had shown indications of corruption.
The ministry appointed PT Atmadhira Karya as the importer of 2,800 live cows from Australia, in a bid to support farmers across the country, but the commission suspects only 1,900 were actually shipped, resulting in more than Rp 5 billion in state losses.
The same year, the ministry also appointed PT Ladang Sutera Indonesia to provide 6,000 sewing machines to assist home industries nationwide. The KPK, however suspects ministry officials had long planned for the machines to be distributed to major companies, as they discovered that the ministry had ordered sewing machines unsuitable for small and medium enterprises.