Nazaruddin's Jakarta Court Bombshells

In sensational testimony over the past week in a Jakarta courtroom, the onetime Democratic Party Treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin has played havoc with his former party, even drawing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono into the mess.

Whatever is eventually proved as a result of Nazaruddin’s testimony, it appears almost certain to destroy the supposedly clean young leaders of the president’s party, disillusioning people who once thought the Democrats were different because their leaders emerged after the Suharto era. Now they seem to be as dirty as their elders. It also appears to finish once and for all any idea that the president was a reformer.

In particular Nazaruddin has implicated party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and former Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, both of whom have previously been mentioned as possible Democratic Party presidential candidates in the next round of presidential elections in 2014. The revelations place the future of the party itself in some jeopardy, much to the glee of Golkar, the second-biggest party, headed by tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, who has made clear his plans to run for the presidency himself.

Rufinius, a lawyer for Nazaruddin, who had fled Indonesia in May just ahead of arrest, said the suspect had gone to the president’s home prior to fleeing to tell him of widespread corruption by top officials, only to have the information ignored. Rufinius also told reporters party leaders Jero Wacik, Amir Syamsuddin and E.E. Mangindaan other party officials whom he said were at the meeting.

Reports earlier this year alleged that Nazaruddin hurriedly left the country after party officials warned him to make a run for it to avoid implicating them in the charges. He left Indonesia almost immediately after the meeting at the president’s house ahead of a request to appear before the Corruption Eradication Commission, the country’s anti-graft agency, on charges that he had accepted at least Rp4.675 billion (US$480,000) in bribes to rig a government tender for the construction of the athletes’ village in Palembang in southern Sumatra for the now-concluded Southeast Asian Games, which ended Nov. 24.

The former treasurer was on the run for four months before he was finally cornered in the Colombian resort city of Cartagena and returned to Jakarta. Despite a widespread belief that he would clam up at his trial and accept what would be expected to be a relatively lenient sentence, Nazaruddin has continued with a vow he made while on the run to implicate top officials and destroy the party. He has denied he had anything to do with the Southeast Asian Games, instead implicating other Democrats, saying “I do not know anything about the athletes’ village because I was never involved in it.”

Investigators have alleged he accepted five checks from Muhammad El-Idris, the former marketing manager of the Duta Graha Indah construction company, via his staff members Yuliani and Oktarina Furi. Allegedly the payments were “commitment fees” to ensure that Duta Graha won the tender for the SEA Games in Palembang, it was alleged. Three other people have been named suspects. They are Muhammad El Idris, Mindo Rosalina Manullang and Youth and Sport Ministry secretary Wafid Muharram.

In testimony this week, Nazaruddin also implicated Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh, a 33-year-old former Miss Indonesia and glamorous party figure, saying he had heard her tell an internal party fact-finding team in May that she had accepted Rp9 billion from Mallarangeng and his ministry’s secretary, Wafid Muharram, for the athletes’ village project. He named nine other Democratic Party officials who were present at the meeting.

He accused Urbaningrum of having decided the winner of another project to be a company called PT Adhi Karya rather than PT Duta Grahia Indah, the ultimate winner of the athletes’ village project, because Duta Graha Indah could not financially assist the party congress. He also alleged that Urbaningrum had ordered another Democrat to tell PT Adhi Karya to give the money to a party official who was to transport it to Bandung, the site of the party congress. Another Rp8 billion was to be given to Democrat lawmaker Mirwan Amir to be distributed among several Democrats — with Rp2 billion going to Urbaningrum and the rest to members of the House budget committee.

Nazaruddin also claimed that Urbaningrum had been given Rp50 billion by the construction company, PT Adhi Karya, for his campaign to become chairman of the Democratic Party. In all, he said, Mallarangeng, then the sports minister, had transferred nearly US$1 million to party members from funds received from PT Duta Graha, which won the athletes’ village contract.