Bachtiar Nasir, who is a key supporter of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, has denied all allegations. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Police Name Islamist Leader Bachtiar Nasir a Suspect in Money Laundering Case

BY :MARKUS JUNIANTO SIHALOHO & CHRISTIAN LEE

MAY 07, 2019

Jakarta. Bachtiar Nasir, the former chairman of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa, or GNPF-MUI, which was instrumental in staging the country's biggest Islamist rallies in recent years, has been named a suspect in a two-year-old money laundering case.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo confirmed that the Saudi-educated cleric would be summoned for further questioning on Wednesday.

"Yes, [he was called as a suspect] and it is an old case," Dedi said on Tuesday.

In February 2017, the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) questioned Nasir as a witness in a money laundering case involving the transfer of funds from the Justice for All Foundation (YKUS).

The foundation was one of many that collected donations to stage the mass rallies prior to the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election to protest then-incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over a remark he made deemed blasphemous of Islam. 

However, police believe some of the money from the YKUS found its way to an organization linked to the Islamic State jihadist group. Under Indonesia's 2018 law on money laundering, any person guilty of financing terrorist activity may be jailed for a maximum of 20 years and liable for a fine of up to Rp 10 billion ($700,000). 

Investigators have so far named Islahudin Akbar, the foundation's financial officer, a suspect in the case.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Feb. 22, 2017 that Islahudin withdrew more than Rp 1 billion from the foundation's bank account and handed it over to Nasir, who then allegedly transferred funds from the GNPF-MUI's account to a Turkey-based aid agency with links to Islamic State. 

Nasir, who is also a key supporter of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto, has denied all allegations. 

He admitted at the time that he had handled Rp 3 billion in the YKUS's bank account, but that a portion of the money collected by the foundation was used to fund the gatherings, known as the "212" and "411" rallies. The remainder, according to Nasir, was used to help earthquake victims in Pidie Jaya, Aceh, and flood victims in Bima and Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara.

He maintains that he only "borrowed" the foundation's account so the flow of funds from contributors could be monitored properly.

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