Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin waiting to be called for questioning at the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in South Jakarta on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

KPK Grills Religious Affairs Minister in Ongoing Bribery Case

BY :FANA SUPARMAN & CHRISTIAN LEE

MAY 09, 2019

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency questioned Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin as a witness in the bribery case involving Romahurmuziy, the former chairman of the United Development Party, or PPP, on Wednesday.

This follows the arrest of Romahurmuziy and religious affairs ministry officials Haris Hasanuddin and Muhammad Muafaq Wirahadi in a sting operation on March 15.

Investigators of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) grilled Lukman about his authority, the employment selection process in his ministry, money found inside his office desk drawer, and whether he had communicated or met with Romahurmuziy regarding the selection process.

Reporters approached Lukman as he was leaving the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta, and asked him about the Rp 180 million ($12,500) and $30,000 in cash KPK investigators seized during a raid on his office on March 18.

However, he dodged the question and instead tried to justify the Rp 10 million in cash he received from Haris, who has been named a suspect in the case. 

Details about the money emerged during a pretrial motion Romahurmuziy filed in the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday. The KPK said during the proceeding that Haris handed Lukman Rp 10 million in cash while visiting an Islamic boarding school in Jombang, East Java, on March 9.

Haris allegedly gave the money to Lukman as a token of appreciation for the minister's role in helping him pass the selection process, which had led to his appointment as head of the religious affairs ministry's East Java office four days earlier.

Lukman admitted that he received the money but said he later reported it to the KPK.

"Regarding the Rp 10 million, I have told KPK investigators that it has already been more than a month. I reported receipt of the money to the KPK. I showed proof that I reported the money to the KPK, because I felt I had no right to receive the money," Lukman said at the KPK headquarters on Wednesday.

In the gratification report his aide delivered to the KPK, Lukman claims that the money was an additional reward from Haris. The problem, however, is that Lukman only delivered the gratification report to the KPK a week after the arrests of Romahurmuziy, Haris and Muafaq.

Based on the rules, an official must report gratuities within 30 working days after receiving it. However, this does not apply if the report is made after a case related to the gratification is already under investigation.

"I beg all journalists to ask the KPK directly [about the Rp 10 million], because they know best what the public should know about," Lukman said.

The minister said he respected the ongoing legal process by the KPK and therefore could not disclose matters related to the case.

"I have to respect the ongoing process, so I feel it is wrong and unethical for me to disclose matters related to the case under investigation [by the KPK]," he said.

KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said investigators are still looking into the motive behind the gratification payment.

"[The money] is part of the gratification reporting process. We will look into it further and await legal proceedings in the ongoing case," Febri said.

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