The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said that there would be more suspects implicated in a corruption case involving President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s financier following the arrest of Central Sulawesi’s Buol district chief, Amran Batalipu.
Deputy Chairman of the KPK Bambang Widjojanto said more people would be investigated in relation to the bribery case involving the district chief and plantation company Hardaya Inti Plantation, which is owned by businesswoman Siti Hartati Murdaya, who has close ties to President Yudhoyono.
“Amran has been declared a suspect in this case. Two people from the company have also been named as those suspected of bribing Amran. There’s more to come,” Bambang said on Saturday.
The KPK also named Yani Anshori, general manager of HIP subsidiary Citra Cakra Murdaya Plantation, and Gondo Sudjono, HIP operational director, as suspects.
Gondo was arrested on June 27 at Soekarno-Hatta airport.
The next in line may be Siti Hartati, HIP’s owner and a major supporter of Yudhoyono’s 2009 campaign. Siti is also the majority owner of the Jakarta International Expo convention center. She has already been given a travel ban, and Bambang has recently said that the KPK will question her, though no time frame for interrogation has been announced.
“However, actually naming her a suspect would depend on the results of the investigation,” he said.
The KPK has already issued travel bans for three other people linked to the case: HIP director Totok Lestiyo, HIP employee
Soekarno and CCM director Kirana Wijaya.
HIP directors allegedly bribed Amran with an amount between Rp 2 billion and Rp 3 billion ($212,000 and $318,000) to issue a concession. On June 26, the KPK carried out a raid and arrested Yani while he was trying to bribe Amran.
Amran escaped and fortified himself in his house with dozens of guards armed with knives. One of his men even intimidated KPK officials by crashing into one of the commission’s vehicles. The KPK then called the National Police bomb squad to apprehend Amran. Amran surrendered without a fight.
Amran was then brought to Jakarta for questioning and is currently being held at a detention center at the KPK offices in Kuningan, South Jakarta. He is the first KPK prisoner to wear a prisoner’s uniform.
“He will be detained for the next 20 days,” KPK spokesman Priharsa Nugraha said.
A close friend of Siti Hartati’s family, M. Al Khadziq, denied that HIP bribed Amran, who is also a Golkar Party lawmaker. Al Khadziq said that HIP is not in the process of acquiring new concessions or expanding its plantation in the Buol district.
But he added that the district administration should have given a concession license to HIP years ago, because the company would generate growth there.
“[HIP] has made a significant contribution to the district. The company has produced crude palm oil and employed thousands of workers. The license should have been given a long time ago,” Al Khadziq said.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party said that the case had little effect on its image. The Democrats have been under fire recently over several graft cases linked to its party members, all the way up to party chairman Anas Urbaningrum.
“It’s not a problem. Siti Hartati’s status is not yet clear,” Amir Syamsuddin, a member of the party’s advisory board and the Justice and Human Rights Minister, said late on Friday.
He said that the Democrats welcomed public reports on corruption cases that are linked to the party.
High-profile cases related to the Democrats include graft cases involving former Democrat treasurer Nazaruddin, and Democrat lawmaker and former Miss Indonesia Angelina Sondakh.