39 Indonesian Lawmakers Named in Bribery Case
|Our Correspondent||Mar 20, 2010|
Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission formally named 39 former and sitting members of the House of Representatives Thursday of taking billions of rupiah in bribes to secure the appointment of Miranda Goeltom as senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia, the country's central bank.
Goeltom, 60, was named a bank senior deputy in June of 2004. She has been under investigation for more than two years in the case, which involves senior figures in several of the country's political parties and leading government officials in a massive web of corruption that has ensnared the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, known by its Indonesian initials PDI-P, the Golkar Party, the Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, and the United Development Party or PPP. She was questioned by the corruption watchdog, known by its Indonesian initials KPK, as early as October of 2009. She has neither been indicted nor arrested.
The central bank, especially after the Asian Financial Crisis hit Indonesia in 1997, has often been used as an informal cash register by the country's well-connected banks, largely without fear of prosecution. At least US$16 billion in state funds was funneled into banks during the financial crisis, much of it immediately channeled overseas by the bank owners, many of whom fled the country.
The central bank has most recently been under fire in the long-running Bank Century case, in which Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati were accused of pouring US$710 million into the ailing bank in an attempt to save it. Several bank officials fled overseas, taking millions of dollars along with them. Boediono and Sri Mulyani argued that the bailout was necessary to save the banking system in the wake of the 2008 global credit crisis.
The release of the names of the 39 lawmakers in the Goeltom case came as the Anti-Corruption Court opened the trials of sitting lawmaker Endin Soefihara of the PPP, and former Golkar Party lawmaker Hamka Yandhu, both of whom were among the 39. Accused of distributing bribes to secure Goeltom's position, the two were formally indicted during separate court hearings and each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Only four current and former lawmakers far face trial in the Rp24 billion (US$2.64 million) bribery case, but the release of the full list of names during Thursday's hearings reveals the depth of alleged corruption in the House selection process in which Miranda, a prominent economist with a doctorate from Boston University in the United States, was appointed with 41 of 51 votes.
Last week, the Anti-Corruption Court opened the trials of Dudhie Makmun Murod, a sitting lawmaker from the PDI-P, and former lawmaker Udju Djuhaeri of the now-defunct Police and Military Faction, which previously formed a part of thelegislature. The men are charged with receiving a total of Rp11.8 billion in traveler's checks that were later distributed to members of their respective factions on the house commission that at the time oversaw banking affairs.
The four defendants have all admitted to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) that they received and cashed the traveler's checks, but claim they do not know where they came from.
The 39 alleged recipients include Paskah Suzetta, the former minister of national development planning and a senior Golkar member. The prosecution said Paskah received Rp600 million. In all, 41 members of the commission are suspected of having taken bribes, but the KPK has not explained why it excluded two unidentified names from the list.
During Yandhu's indictment hearing on Thursday, lead prosecutor Riyono said the Golkar politician had received Rp7.35 billion in traveler's checks shortly after voting for Goeltom. Yandhu allegedly kept Rp 2.25 billion while handing out the rest to 11 fellow party members who had also voted for her.
Endin allegedly received Rp 1.5 billion in traveler's checks. The PPP politician distributed Rp1 billion to three PPP members who voted for Goeltom and kept Rp 500 million for himself, lead prosecutor Sarjono Turin told the court.
"The defendant received 30 traveler's checks from Nunun Nurbaeti Daradjatun through Ahmad Hakim Safari, also known as Arie Malangjudo," Turin said.
Nunun Daradjatun is a businesswoman and wife of Adang Daradjatun, a former National Police deputy chief and politician from the PKS. The prosecution said the woman was also responsible for disbursing bribe money to the three other defendants, who are being tried separately, including Yandhu.
KPK prosecutors plan to call Nunun Daradjatun and Goeltom to testify at the four trials. The anti-corruption body is still pursuing Safari, a former director of PT Wahana Esa Sejati, an oil plantation company owned by Nunun. Panda Nababan, a senior PDI-P politician who prosecutors said received Rp 1.45 billion in bribes, denied of receiving any money. He has yet to be indicted.
With reporting from the Jakarta Globe