16 Years: Luthfi Jailed Until the Cows Come Home

By : Jakarta Globe | on 9:53 PM December 09, 2013
Category : News, Crime, Featured

Lutfhi Hasan Ishaaq flashes a thumbs up sign to reporters at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Dec. 9, 2013. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal) Lutfhi Hasan Ishaaq flashes a thumbs up sign to reporters at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Dec. 9, 2013. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Disgraced Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) head Luthfi Hasan Ishaq was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Monday for attempting to corrupt Indonesia’s beef-import quota after a marathon four-hour reading of the case at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.

“[I am] declaring Luthfi Hasan Ishaq proven validly and convincingly guilty of conspiring in corruption crime and money laundering,” said chief judge Gusrizal Lubis.

He was proven guilty of both money laundering and corruption.

Luthfi was ordered to pay Rp 1 billion in fines or serve an extra one year in prison. The sentence was lower than the 18 years in prison and Rp 1.5 billion in fines initially demanded by prosecutors.

The former PKS chair was arrested alongside his close aide Ahmad Fathanah and two directors of the beef-import company Indoguna Utama in January. The sensational graft bust began with a PKS-backed money-for-meat scheme before growing to include allegations of the involvement of a part-time sex worker, a mysterious powerbroker with presidential ties and a late-night call to Agriculture Minister Suswono.

The KPK’s investigation uncovered Rp 1.3 billion in bribes paid to Luthfi — a claim the Islamist party denied — and charged the politician with both money laundering and corruption.

The initial bribe was reportedly only a “commitment fee” on the total Rp 40 billion promised to Luthfi in exchange for his influence over the Ministry of Agriculture.

The KPK did not immediately say whether it would appeal the verdict. Lutfhi immediately said he would appeal.

"I don't accept this verdict and will appeal [the case]," Luthfi said, according to the Indonesian news portal Detik.com.

Three other people, including his aide and two Indoguna Utama executives, have also been found guilty by a panel of judges at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.

His aide Ahmad, who was caught in a hotel room with a college student moonlighting as a for-hire mistress, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges as his trial drew to a close last month. The prosecution had demanded 17.5 years in prison in that case.

The KPK said it would appeal the verdict, alleging that Ahmad was also guilty of money laundering.

The two Indoguna Utama executives, Arya Abdi Effendi and Juard Effendi, were sentenced to 21 months in prison for delivering the bribery funds to Ahmad.

The company’s director Maria Elizabeth Liman has been charged in the case and is awaiting trial.

PKS party members have attempted to distance themselves from Ahmad in the months following the arrests, but, for the most part, have stuck behind Luthfi. The former chair should not have been charged with accepting a bribe, the party argued, because the money never made it past Ahmad.

Ahmad was arrested at Le Meridien Hotel, in Jakarta, shortly after accepting the bribery funds. Antigraft investigators found the married man in a hotel room with a naked college student he reportedly paid Rp 10 million to sleep with him.

It was only the beginning of what would prove to be a colorful trial. Ahmad used a small army of women — 45 in total — to launder his illicit wealth. Those on the take included everyone from a high school student to an adult magazine model — the latter of which admitted to receiving a diamond ring worth Rp 90 million and a Honda Jazz from the PKS aide.

Luthfi was an equally splashy spender, commissioning a custom stereo system for three of his cars that totaled Rp 56 million. The KPK seized six cars belonging to Luthfi and uncovered evidence that the 52-year-old man had 15 children and three wives. He married the third wife, 19-year-old Darin Mumtazah, when she was still in vocational school. The marriage was unregistered and secret, the KPK alleged.

The case has shaken the public’s perception of the PKS, which was once seen as both conservative and clean of corruption, and has threatened to climb the ranks as allegations flew of the involvement of high-profile officials in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ministry, not Luthfi, is in charge of awarding beef import tenders. Luthfi reportedly used his considerable influence in the ministry to secure the approval of an additional 8,000 tons of beef for Indoguna Utama. He also set up a meeting between Maria and Suswono, the judges said, according to the Indonesian news portal Kompas.

Suswono, the agriculture minister, has not been charged in the case.

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