Indonesian minister and two senior ministry officials detained for bribery related to Covid-19 aid package

Healthcare workers rest as they finish swab tests for the coronavirus, Indonesia. Photo: ANTARA. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Dec 6, 2020, ST. Indonesia’s Social Affairs Minister Juliari P. Batubara was detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) early on Sunday (Dec 6) as part of the anti-graft agency’s probe into a bribery case that involved a private company that has won contracts from his ministry to supply aid packages to those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, The Straits Times reported.

Juliari’s detention came a day after KPK foiled an attempt to hand over suitcases and backpacks containing cash in local currency rupiah, US dollars and Singapore dollars equivalent to 14.5 billion rupiah (S$1.38 million) to the minister and two high-ranking ministry officials.

KPK chief Firli Bahuri named Juliari as a corruption suspect following the raid. The minister handed himself over to KPK at 2.50am on Sunday.

Juliari, a politician with the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was appointed a minister in October 2019. He is the second minister under President Joko Widodo’s second term administration to be implicated in a corruption case.

On Nov 25, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was arrested for alleged corruption related to his ministry’s decision to lift a ban on lobster larvae exports.

He and several other ministry officials were arrested at the country’s main Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta as the entourage returned from a US trip. Prabowo is a politician with the Gerindra party, a member of Mr Joko’s PDI-P ruling coalition.

KPK also detained former commissioner of Indonesia’s supreme audit agency Rizal Djalil on Dec 3 for alleged bribery related to a project under the Public Works and Housing Ministry.

In a media conference held in the early hours on Sunday, Mr Firli disclosed that Juliari received an 8.2 billion rupiah bribe for the first phase of the government’s Covid-19 social aid package and 8.8 billion rupiah for the second phase, which dealt with the distribution of staple foods such as rice and cooking oil from October to December.

“The fees (charged to suppliers) for each of the 300,000 rupiah worth of aid packages agreed by MJS and AW were 10,000 rupiah,” Mr Firli told reporters on Sunday, referring to the high-ranking ministry officials by their initials.

KPK has declared Juliari, MJS and AW as corruption suspects for allegedly receiving bribes, and two private citizens with the initials AIM and HS as the parties delivering the bribes. KPK has so far disclosed only the name of the minister.

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