Co-Defendant in Major Graft Trial Implicates Sports Minister Dito
Jakarta. A defendant in a major corruption trial related to the fraudulent procurement of telecommunication infrastructure implicated Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo during a hearing on Wednesday.
The defendant, businessman Irwan Hermawan, informed the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court that he had transferred Rp 27 billion to Dito through a messenger.
When a judge inquired, "Dito who? There are many people named Dito," Irwan clarified, "I later learned that the person in question is Dito Ariotedjo."
This testimony emerged as part of the ongoing corruption trial involving former IT Minister Johnny Plate, former high-ranking officials of the Communication and Informatics Ministry, and several businessmen accused of corruption related to the procurement of 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) for providing internet services in remote regions of Indonesia.
In the initial hearing in June, prosecutors charged Johnny with accepting Rp 17.8 billion ($1.2 million) in bribes from companies awarded the internet infrastructure project, which remains delayed.
Dito, whose real name is Ario Bimo Nandito, had not assumed the ministerial position when he allegedly received the money from Irwan.
On July 13, an attorney for Irwan returned banknotes worth Rp 27 billion to the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and informed the press that the money had been given back to his client by an individual whose identity the lawyer declined to disclose.
However, this action occurred ten days after Dito had been questioned by the AGO, during which the minister acknowledged that he was asked about "allegations that I have accepted Rp 27 billion." Nevertheless, he did not confirm whether he accepted the money.
Dito, who celebrated his 33rd birthday two days ago, assumed office as a minister on April 3, becoming the youngest member of President Joko Widodo's cabinet. However, the alleged bribery scandal predates his ministerial appointment.
Prior to his cabinet role, Dito was known as a businessman who founded several startups and a politician affiliated with the Golkar Party.
The connection between his business activities and the scandal surrounding internet infrastructure procurement at the Communication and Informatics Ministry's Information and Telecommunication Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) remains unclear. Prosecutors have characterized Dito's involvement as that of a witness.
Apart from Johnny and Irwan, the corruption trial includes six other defendants, including Anang Achmad Latif, former CEO of BAKTI; Yohan Suryanto, a consultant from the University of Indonesia; Galumbang Menak Simanjuntak, CEO of Mora Telematika Indonesia; Mukti Ali, Account Director of Huawei Tech Investment; Windi Purnama, director of Multimedia Berdikari Sejahtera; and Muhammad Yusriki Muliawan, director of Basis Utama Prima.
According to the indictment, the project aimed to build 4G internet infrastructure covering approximately 7,900 villages in remote regions, divided into multiple packages with substantial budgets allocated to the business entities responsible for the construction.
The budget allocations included Rp 2.9 trillion for the FiberHome, Telkominfra, and Multi Trans Data consortium, Rp 1.58 trillion for the Lintasarta, Huawei, and SEI consortium, and Rp 3.5 trillion for the IBS and ZTE consortium.
The project's goal was to provide cellular services at 4,200 sites by the end of 2021, but as of March last year, only 958 sites were equipped with 4G BTS.
Prosecutors claim that this scandal resulted in a loss of Rp 8 trillion ($533.7 million) to the state. The indictment did not provide an update on progress toward the government's target of providing BTS for an additional 3,000 sites in 2022.
According to prosecutors, Johnny requested a budget of Rp 25 trillion for the entire project during his tenure in 2020.