Romahurmuziy, in the orange vest, escorted by two officers of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Could Senior Religious Affairs Ministry Officials Be Implicated in Romy Bribery Case?

MARCH 24, 2019

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency has not ruled out the possibility that more officials at the Ministry of Religious Affairs may have been involved in a bribery case that led to the arrest of Romahurmuziy, chairman of the United Development Party, or PPP, two weeks ago.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested the PPP chairman, popularly known as Romy, and several others in a sting operation at the ministry's provincial offices in Sidoarjo, East Java, on March 15. They were found in possession of a large amount of cash, which investigators believe was to be used to help two officials secure senior positions within the ministry.

"It is possible [that someone inside the religious affairs ministry may have been assisting Romy]," KPK deputy chairman Laode Syarif said in Jakarta on March 18.

Romy allegedly received bribes from Haris Hasanuddin, head of the East Java religious affairs office, and Muhammad Muafaq Wirahadi, head of the ministry's Gresik district office, to rig the selection process. This came after Haris was disqualified when it emerged that he had previously faced disciplinary action.

"He has been disciplined before, but for some reason he got through. That is what KPK investigators are looking into," Syarif said.

Based on information the KPK obtained, Romy was not only involved in filling posts in the ministry's East Java office, but also in "selling" posts in several other regional offices despite not having any authority on staff matters within the ministry.

"There are several reports, not just one. Not only in East Java, but also in other places," said Syarif, who declined to reveal the name of the person in the ministry allegedly involved in aiding Romy. The KPK deputy chairman was also reluctant to talk about the alleged involvement of Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, a senior member of the PPP.

"That is part of the investigation. We cannot elaborate on it yet," he said.

Chronology

Haris reportedly visited Romy's residence in East Jakarta on Feb. 6, where he handed him Rp 250 million ($17,600) in cash to influence the selection process. The KPK suspects this was the first part of the bribery.

In mid-February, the religious affairs ministry received information that Haris had not passed the selection process because of the previous disciplinary action.

However, the KPK believes several parties then conspired to get Haris through the selection process and appoint him as head of the ministry's East Java office.

After Haris was sworn in as head in March, he was allegedly approached by Muafaq, who asked to help him set up a meeting with Romy.

On March 15, Muafaq, Haris and Abdul Wahab, a PPP legislative candidate from Gresik district, met with Romy to hand him another Rp 50 million to help secure Muafaq's post.

The KPK has named Romy, Haris and Muafaq as suspects in the case 24 hours after their arrest.

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