Judge Named a Suspect in KPK Bribery Sting
Rizky Amelia & Agus Triyono
Investigators formally named a Central Jakarta judge as a suspect on Thursday night after claiming to have caught him red-handed taking cash related to a bankruptcy case in his court.
The judge was caught accepting Rp 250 million ($29,000) from Puguh Wirayawan, a curator of Skycamping Indonesia, Johan Budi, a spokesman for the Eradication Corruption Commission (KPK), said on Thursday.
“Judge S. was arrested at his house in Sunter, North Jakarta, on Wednesday night at around 10:15 p.m.,” Johan said.
Other members of the commission later identified the judge as Syarifuddin, who deals with bankruptcy cases at the Central Jakarta District Court.
“On Thursday, they were both named suspects,” Johan said, referring to Syarifuddin and Puguh. Syarifuddin’s driver was also questioned, he said.
The bribe is suspected to have been paid to smooth the sale of the company’s assets in Bekasi. Syarifuddin was the supervisory judge whose permit was needed for the sale of the assets, plots of land in Bekasi worth about Rp 25 billion in total.
It was unclear whether the Rp 250 million was the full or partial payment of the alleged bribe.
If prosecuted, Syarifuddin will likely become only the second judge to be tried in the Anti-Corruption Court. The first, Muhammad Ibrahim, was sentenced to six years in jail last August for taking a Rp 300 million bribe from the plaintiff in a land-dispute case.
Johan said Puguh arrived at Syarifuddin’s house at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night. At 10 p.m., the money was handed over in three brown envelopes.
When the KPK investigators raided the house, though, Puguh had already left. He was later arrested in Pancoran, South Jakarta, at around 11 p.m.
The KPK also confiscated bundles of bank notes in various currencies, including about Rp 141 million, $84,000, 284,900 Singapore dollars, 20,000 yen and 12,600 baht, all found in the judge’s home.
“We are still investigating whether this money came from other cases or is legally owned by the judge,” Johan said.
KPK deputy chairman M. Jasin said the case was exposed while KPK investigators had tailed people suspected of being behind the failure of Skycamping Indonesia to provide severance pay to its 1,500 dismissed workers after the company went bankrupt.
The workers had filed a suit with the Central Jakarta District Court in October 2009 over the absence of the severance payments. They accused Maryadi, a former labor unionist, and Puguh of embezzling the severance pay.
Asep Rahmat Fajar, spokesman for the Judicial Commission, said that under the law and to allow for the legal process to proceed, the Supreme Court needed to temporarily suspend the judge as soon as possible.
Zainal Arifin Mochtar, a legal expert from Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, said the case showed the failure of Indonesia’s judicial reforms. He said the increase in salaries and allowances for judges had failed to guarantee better conduct.
Zainal said the Judicial Commission could cooperate with the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) to check on the wealth of judges.
“The Judicial Commission must have a regular audit and monitor the judges, to see what cases they are handling and what are the verdicts so as to prevent such bribes from happening again,” he said.