Jakarta. While the nation is still mourning the victims of last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, a bombshell allegation has emerged that implicates high-level government officials – including the chief of the National Police – in a bribery scandal.
The scandal flows from the arrest, conviction and jailing of former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Patrialis Akbar in early 2017 for accepting bribes from businessman Basuki Hariman, a beef importer.
The Jakarta Corruption Court sent Patrialis to eight years in prison, while Basuki and his assistant, Ng Fenny, received jail terms of seven and five years each, respectively. The bribes were related to a judicial review of the 2014 Animal Husbandry and Livestock Health Law, which Basuki claimed was hurting his business.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) nabbed Patrialis, Basuki and Fenny in a series of sting operations in Jakarta in late January 2017.
Local news portal independen.id reported that during a recent search of Basuki's offices in Jakarta, the KPK found a so-called "cashflow book," or ledger, under the name Panorama Indah Sejati, one of the businessman's companies.
According to independen.id, the ledger made by Kumala Dewi Sumartono, a staff member in Panorama Indah's finance department, shows that the company had made several payments to high-level government officials, including in the Finance Ministry's Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the National Police and certain government ministries, allegedly as bribes to secure the company's beef imports.
Independen.id participates in Indonesialeaks, an independent platform supported by senior journalists and local media groups, which facilitates anonymous submissions by whistleblowers or members of the public on controversial issues that may require further investigation.
According to independen.id, an investigative team from Indonesialeaks managed to obtain a copy of the ledger, as well as a detailed investigation report on the questioning of Kumala Dewi by antigraft investigators.
The most controversial part involves Tito Karnavian, who was chief of the Jakarta Police at the time, and whose name allegedly showed up in the ledger. There were several amounts entered next to his name, which suggested that the company had made payments to him.
Some entries in the ledger only listed beneficiaries' initials, while others only listed nicknames, or beneficiaries' job titles or positions. No explanations were given for the purpose of the payments to some of the names listed in the ledger.
The independen.id story further claims that Kumala explained in the KPK investigation report dated March 9, 2017, that Panorama Indah had allegedly made payments to as many as 68 government officials.
Basuki's beef importing business was quite "tasty." The businessman controlled at least 20 companies and he was known as one of the biggest players in the industry in the country.
In a written statement distributed in the media, former deputy KPK chairman Bambang Widjojanto criticized incumbent KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo for investigating Gen. Karnavian's alleged involvement in the case.
National Police Response: It Has Been Clarified in 2017The National Police have meanwhile denied the story, which was previously reported in the media, by saying that it was an old issue that had surfaced last year.
"The case came up in 2017, but it has since been clarified. There were also names of customs officials who allegedly received money, which was reported to the Jakarta Police," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said on Monday.
The Jakarta Police questioned Basuki in response to the report, but according to Setyo, he denied the validity of everything he had written in the ledger.
"Basuki said he just wrote down those names to justify taking money [from the company]. So he put down the names of A, B, C, because his wife also supervises his company's finances. He just used random names," Setyo said.
He also commented on news reports claiming that two former KPK investigators, Adjutant Chief Comr. Roland Ronaldy and Comr. Harun, who were recruited from the National Police, had reportedly ripped out and destroyed several pages containing Tito's name from the controversial ledger.
Setyo said the police did not recall the two officers, but that the KPK had transferred them back to the police.
"It is not a recall ... Let this be clarified by the KPK again," he said.
Setyo said the National Police's internal affairs division investigated the allegation but found no credible evidence that the two police officers, who were working for the KPK at the time, had destroyed any important evidence.
He said the KPK investigation did not show any "problems" involving the two officers.
"We will study this information, but if it is a hoax, we will get rid of it. We won't spend much time on any unnecessary things," Setyo said.