Trial Begins in Miranda Vote-Buying Scandal
[Updated on July 25, 2012]
The trial of Miranda Goeltom kicked off on Tuesday in Jakarta with prosecutors indicting the former central bank official on charges that could see her face up to five years in prison for bribing legislators.
Supardi, a prosecutor from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), told the Anti-Corruption Court that Miranda conspired with her associate, Nunun Nurbaetie, to bribe members of the House of Representatives responsible for vetting candidates for senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia in 2004.
He alleged that Miranda, who was passed over in the selection for Bank Indonesia governor in 2003, asked Nunun to introduce her to members of House Commission IX, which oversees financial and banking affairs.
Nunun, who was sentenced in May to two and a half years in prison for her role in distributing Rp 24 billion ($2.54 million) in bribes, duly set up meetings between Miranda and legislators Endin J. Soefihara, Hamka Yandhu and Paskah Suzetta.
“After the meeting, Nunun heard someone say that this was not a ‘thank you’ project, meaning that support from the legislators serving on the vetting committee for the BI senior deputy governor post would cost something,” Supardi said.
The three legislators were among 28 who were later tried and convicted for taking bribes in the case.
Prosecutors alleged that Miranda also invited other legislators from the Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle (PDI-P) to come to a meeting at a luxury hotel, allegedly to seek their support for her election bid. She is also believed to have met with legislators from the armed forces faction at her office.
“The defendant demanded that at the fit-and-proper test, the armed forces legislators should not ask her about personal matters, which was the same issue that caused her to fail the selection for the BI governor’s post in 2003,” Supardi said.
He added that Miranda also knew of Nunun receiving 480 traveler’s checks, each valued at Rp 50 million, a day before her June 8, 2004, test. At Nunun’s trial, it was revealed that the businesswoman distributed the checks on the day of the test through an assistant, Ari Malangjudo.
Miranda was eventually selected to the senior deputy governor post.
“The defendant knew that the distribution of the traveler’s checks by Nunun to the House Commission IX legislators administering the fit-and-proper test went against a prohibition on legislators engaging in corruption, collusion and nepotism,” Supardi said.
However, Miranda told the court that the prosecutors’ case was built up largely on assumptions.
“Looking at the indictment, the prosecutors appear simply to be trying to force their will on the court, and have prepared the indictment based only on assumptions and impressions,” she said when reading her prepared statement.
She acknowledged some of the events described by prosecutors, but denied knowing about the bribes.
“I never had any knowledge, nor was I ever told by Nunun or anyone else, about there being plans to distribute traveler’s checks to members of House Commission IX to ensure my selection, as the prosecutors allege,” she said.
Miranda also said that while she realized the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court had a 100 percent conviction rate, she hoped the judges would be just and fair in her case.
Dodi Abdulkadir, Miranda’s lawyer, also called the substance of the KPK’s indictment into question.
“The indictment isn’t accurate, clear or complete,” he told reporters before the hearing. “It doesn’t detail the crime that she has been accused of.”
He argued that while prosecutors alleged that Miranda knew of the distribution of the checks by Nunun, the indictment did not detail how she knew of it.
“The indictment also says that Miranda asked to be presented to the members of the House. But does this constitute a crime?” he said.
The indictment also fails to provide evidence for the allegation that Miranda persuaded Nunun to distribute the bribes, Dodi said.
While dozens of people have been tried and imprisoned in the long-running saga, the KPK only named Miranda, the woman at the center of the case, a suspect earlier this year.
And although Nunun has been convicted for distributing the money, the KPK has still not fingered the financier behind the whole scheme.