Nasaruddin Umar, the deputy minister for religious affairs, says Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali should be held accountable in the ongoing Koran procurement graft case because he should have known about the project.
“The minister should be held responsible for everything,” Nasaruddin said after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) grilled him for eight hours about the case on Friday.
Nasaruddin was questioned in his capacity as the ministry’s former director general for Islamic affairs.
“He was questioned in regards to the Koran procurement case that is being investigated by the KPK,” said Johan Budi, a spokesman for the antigraft commission.
The KPK is investigating graft allegations in two different procurement cases involving the ministry.
The first case relates to the procurement of laboratory equipment for Islamic high schools in 2010. The other is the Koran procurement case from last year.
The KPK has already named Zulkarnaen Djabar, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission VIII, overseeing religious affairs, a suspect for taking bribes to push through the procurement of the holy books.
Dendy Prasetya, the director of Perkasa Jaya Abadi Nusantara, the company that won the Rp 20 billion ($2.1 million) Koran procurement contract and the Rp 30 billion laboratory procurement project, was also named a suspect in the Koran.
Dendy is Zulkarnaen’s son. Both allegedly received a total of Rp 4 billion in bribes from both projects.
No one has been named a suspect in the lab equipment case, primarily because it is still under investigation.
Speaking at the House last month, Suryadharma said he knew nothing about the graft case and referred all questions to the antigraft investigators.
“We are currently carrying out an internal investigation, but we haven’t decided whether to publish [the information], use it for internal reference or submit the findings to the KPK,” the minister said.
“If we do find anything, they will only be provisional findings that will require further investigation. They won’t be definitive, such as so-and-so is guilty.”
Suryadharma also denied knowing anything about the distribution of free Korans to members of House Commission VIII. A Democratic Party legislator labeled the freebies “a new mode of operation for corruption at the legislature.”
“We’re looking into whether there was a request from the House for the Korans,” Suryadharma said.
Each of the 48 members of the commission are alleged to have received Rp 500 million worth of Korans to distribute to their constituents.
Benny K. Harman, the deputy chairman of House Commission VI, which oversees industry, trade, investment and state enterprises, denounced the gift as an “obvious act of graft.”
“To fight this graft, I ask that all legislators who received these Korans be questioned by the KPK,” Benny said in July.
Zulkarnaen admitted to taking kickbacks in return for approving funding for the ministry’s procurement project. His party, the Golkar Party, has removed him from the House Budget Committee.