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Indonesia's antigraft body keeps pressure on energy ministry
Publication Date : 24-06-2014
Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) announced on Monday it had officially launched a fresh investigation of the alleged corruption at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, which is headed by senior Democratic Party politician Jero Wacik.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, the antigraft body had already investigated three separate graft cases plaguing the ministry as well as the House of Representatives’ Commission VII on energy and natural mineral resources, which oversees the ministry.
The three graft cases involved the alleged rigging of a number of state projects at the ministry, which implicated the ministry’s former secretary-general, Waryono Karno; allegations of bribery implicating former Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) head Rudi Rubiandini, and an alleged payoff from the ministry to House Commission VII, which implicated its chairman and Democratic Party politician Sutan Bathoegana.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi declined to give details about the new probe, saying only that the graft case would be “larger” than the other cases.
“We decided to launch the preliminary investigation after collecting strong evidence from the previous graft cases, which indicated further corruption had taken place at the ministry,” Johan said on Monday.
Although his office has been rocked by several graft scandals, Jero remains a witness in a number of cases handled by the KPK. He has been questioned twice by the KPK in relation to the three graft cases.
Johan was quick, however, to deny speculation that the fresh investigation would implicate Jero.
On Monday, the KPK questioned Waryono as a witness in the probe.
The corruption allegations against the ministry were first raised during the trial of the SKKMigas’ Rudi, who was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in April for accepting millions of dollars in bribes from several oil and gas companies.
Rudi admitted to accepting the bribes, explaining that demands had been made for money in exchange for the smooth operation of SKKMigas by the latter’s “stakeholders”, in other words the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry and House Commission VII.
In the KPK’s investigative documentation on Rudi, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, president director of state energy company PT Pertamina, Karen Agustiawan, who was questioned as a witness in Rudi’s case, told investigators that Rudi once phoned her to say that Jero and he had agreed that SKKMigas would provide US$150,000 to help ease the deliberation of the ministry’s budget at the House, while another $150,000 would be provided by Pertamina, whose operation comes under the supervision of Jero’s office.