Jakarta Globe | Insight

Antigraft Agency’s Big Strikes in 2017

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency claims to have saved the state trillions of rupiah that could potentially have been lost to corruption, while its operations, funded from the state budget, amounted to Rp 780.1 billion ($54.6 million) last year.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigated several high-profile graft cases in 2017, including the one involving the former speaker of the national legislature.

Last year, the KPK stepped up its investigations into what could eventually become one of the country’s largest graft investigations, despite politicians forging ahead with apparent attempts to weaken the agency’s powers. These efforts to weaken the KPK are nothing new, but in a country riddled with institutional corruption, they could have grave consequences if they succeed.

Activists nevertheless say last year’s attempts, including the national legislature’s inquiry into the KPK, marked one of the biggest backlashes against Indonesia’s anticorruption drive.

“Our political culture still does not approve of serious efforts to eradicate graft,” Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) said in a recent statement.

Despite these political maneuvers, the KPK pressed ahead with 118 active investigations last year, compared with 99 in 2016 and 57 in 2015.

“This shows the KPK does not want to bow to political pressure,” said Dadang Trisasongko, secretary general of Transparency International Indonesia.

The KPK has arrested various district heads and mayors in several graft cases. Some have been caught red-handed, while others were charged only after corruption investigators acquired enough evidence to detain them.

The following are some highlights of the KPK’s actions in 2017 and what the agency considers to be its greatest successes.

Preventing State Losses

1. Rp 2.6 trillion. This includes Rp 114 billion in potential graft and preventing the loss of Health Ministry assets worth Rp 374 billion. The agency also claims to have helped boost nontax revenue from the forestry sector by up to Rp 1 trillion and a similar amount from the coal and mining sector.

2. Rp 276 billion. A total of Rp 188 billion was recovered in multiple corruption and money-laundering cases and returned to state coffers, while Rp 88.6 billion was donated in the form of public-facility endowments.

High-Profile Cases of 2017

1. The e-KTP corruption case, one of the largest scandals to befall the national legislature, revolves around the Rp 5.9 trillion procurement project for electronic identity cards, which resulted in Rp 2.3 trillion in state losses.

The KPK has charged Setya Novanto, former speaker of the House of Representatives, late last year with embezzling $7.3 million from the project. He consistently denied any wrongdoing and successfully dodged questioning for months before his eventual arrest.

Former House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)
Former House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Setya’s trial has already revealed that dozens of politicians, including former Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, may eventually be implicated in the e-KTP corruption scandal.

“Others are alleged to also having received funds [from the case], so we will certainly keep going after them,” KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said previously.

2. Corruption investigators placed Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, the former chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (BPPN), in custody in December as part of their prolonged probe into irregularities surrounding the disbursement of Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) funds. The move came after the antigraft agency questioned Syafruddin, who was named a suspect in the high-profile case earlier last year.

Up to Rp 144.5 trillion was disbursed to 48 commercial banks during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, with around 95 percent of the BLBI funds having been embezzled, according to the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).

Syafruddin’s alleged misdeeds resulted in Rp 4.6 trillion in state losses.

“Hopefully, we will obtain more details from Syafruddin,” KPK commissioner Laode Syarif said, vowing that his office would thoroughly investigate the case.

“Our 2018 resolution is to completely solve the e-KTP and BLBI cases,” he said.

3. KPK officials arrested Bengkulu Governor Ridwan Mukti, his wife Lili Martiani Madari and three contractors for alleged bribery in June last year and also confiscated a box containing cash as evidence.

4. Rita Widyasari. The KPK arrested the district head of Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan, in October on allegations that she accepted Rp 1.5 billion in bribes related to the issuing of permits to a plantation company.

5. Tubagus Imam Ariyadi. The KPK named the mayor of Cilegon, Banten, a suspect in September for allegedly accepting Rp 1.5 billion in bribes from state-controlled companies.

6 Eddy Rumpoko. The KPK nabbed the mayor of Batu, East Java, in a sting operation in September. He is accused of having accepted Rp 500 million in bribes from businessman Filipus Djap involving the Rp 5.26 billion procurement of furniture by the city administration last year.

7. Arya Zulkarnain. The district head of Batubara, North Sumatra, was arrested in September for allegedly accepting bribes from contractors involved in an infrastructure project.

8. Siti Mashita. The KPK arrested the mayor of Tegal, Central Java, for allegedly accepting kickbacks involving the management fund of a public hospital and procurement projects by the city administration in the 2017 fiscal year.

9. Achmad Syafii. The district head of Pamekasan, East Java, was arrested along with District Attorney Rudy Indra Prasetya for alleged misuse of village fund transfers.

10. Taufiqurrahman. The district head of Nganjuk, East Java, was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes involving the recruitment of public servants by the district government.

11. Masud Yunus. The mayor of Mojokerto, East Java, was named a suspect in a bribery case involving deliberation of the local government budget for the 2017 fiscal year.

‘No Major Leap’

The KPK’s ongoing investigations into the BLBI and e-KTP corruption scandals and several others have not made any major impact on the prevalence of corruption in the country last year, the ICW said.

Indonesia ranked 90th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perception index last year.

The KPK investigated 116 cases last year, most of which involving bribery. At least 43 of those that are implicated are government officials.

Nineteen of the 116 cases were uncovered by KPK sting operations, which were significantly more last year compared to any other period since the agency was established in 2002.

The 19 sting operations resulted in the KPK naming up to 72 people as graft suspects, some of them mayors and district heads.

But the KPK’s counterparts, the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office, have not appeared to be fully cooperative, or as quick to act, activists say.

“There has hardly been any major graft case handled by the Attorney General’s Office and the police,” the ICW said in a statement in December. It added that this resulted in no “major leap” in Indonesia’s corruption fight last year.