US National in Airport Customs Scandal May Have Bribed Officials Before
A US national arrested on Wednesday in connection with a corruption sting involving customs and excise workers may have paid bribes to the officials on more than one occasion, an antigraft commissioner said on Thursday.
Bambang Widjojanto, deputy chairman at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said that the incident on Wednesday, in which seven people were arrested across two locations, was the second time that the perpetrators were known to have transacted a bribe.
“The payment of Rp 100 million [$10,600] that we caught them making was not the first of its kind,” he said.
The American suspect, identified only as Andrew, was arrested on the Jakarta-Merak toll road with three other people, including a colleague identified as Roy.
They were picked up at the same time that KPK investigators arrested a customs officer at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport — a sub-section chief identified as Wawono — while allegedly taking a bribe from two men identified as Edi and Aan.
The KPK alleges that Wawono had demanded a bribe of Rp 150 million from Andrew, who works for a furniture company in Jakarta, in order to expedite the release of his company’s goods from the airport’s cargo terminal. But investigators said that Andrew, whose shipment had reportedly been held for more than four months, did not want to pay the money in person and delegated the transaction to the others.
Investigators seized Rp 104 million from Wawono, Rp 6 million from Edi and an undisclosed amount from Roy.
Bambang said the case highlighted the need for greater efforts to tackle corruption in the customs office. He added that the customs office was the KPK’s top priority in terms of revenue-generating government bodies. “This means we need to keep supervising this office,” he said.
Separately, Oza Olivia, the head of monitoring at the customs office, said her office was prepared to cooperate with the KPK in its investigation.
She also denied that it was common practice for customs officials to deliberately hold back shipments in order to solicit bribes, saying such a practice was “beyond the limit.” Oza also confirmed that Wawono had worked at the customs office for the past 10 years.
Additional reporting from Antara.