Jakarta. The businesswoman at the center of a beef import graft scandal that brought down high-ranking members of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) began her trial on Tuesday.
Maria Elizabeth Liman, the president director of beef importer Indoguna Utama, has been charged with funneling Rp 1.3 billion ($113,750) in bribes to former PKS chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, who last December was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for his involvement in the case.
"The money disbursed or promised [to Luthfi] was given so that he would use his influence among officials at the Ministry of Agriculture [to] approve or propose [increases] in the beef import quota for 2013," prosecutor Supardi said as she read out the indictment during a hearing at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Tuesday.
The Agriculture Ministry is known to be controlled by the PKS, an Islamic political party — Agricultural Minister Suswono is a PKS politician.
Prosecutors said Maria had approached Luthfi through his close aide Ahmad Fathanah, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the same case.
Luthfi then promised to facilitate a meeting between Maria and Suswono. She then met again with Ahmad to discuss to transaction.
"And then the defendant stated that she would provide financial support for the PKS," prosecutor Irene Putri said.
Elizabeth allegedly promised Luthfi that she would provide a total of Rp 40 billion in commitment fee if Luthfi helped Indoguna obtain a 8,000-metric ton quota increase.
At first, Maria allegedly gave Luthfi Rp 300 million to sponsor a PKS event in Medan. The money was channeled by her son Arya Abdi Effendi and her brother in-law Juard Effendi — both directors with Indoguna — via alleged broker Elda Devianne Adiningrat, to Ahmad.
Both Arya and Juard have been sentenced to two years and three months in prison each over the case.
Ahmad then took the second segment of the bribe — Rp 1 billion — from Maria at her office in Jakarta.
"Fathanah then called Luthfi, telling him that the money from the defendant had been received," Irene said.
Upon securing the money, Ahmad met university student Maharani Suciono in a room at Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta, whom he allegedly paid Rp 10 million to sleep with him. Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested Ahmad while he was in the hotel room with the naked student.
Maria has been charged under two articles in the Law on Corruption dealing with bribery. She is facing up to five years in prison.