Fourth Minister in Jokowi Cabinet Becomes Graft Suspect
Jakarta. Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara was named a corruption suspect on Sunday for allegedly collecting fees from the Rp 5.9 trillion ($416 million) worth of social assistance package of the government Covid-19 response.
He was the second sitting minister to be detained for corruption in less than two weeks, after Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was arrested upon arrival from his Hawaii trip on Nov. 25.
Juliari, 48, turned himself in to the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, at around 03.00 a.m. on Sunday and was immediately detained.
KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri said the minister and his two accomplices were alleged to have accepted at least Rp 17 billion ($1.2 million) in illegal fees from companies who won contract to procure and distribute the basic commodities packages for the poor in Jakarta.
Juliari, a senior member with the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), has collected Rp 10,000 from every package valued at Rp 300,000, Firli told a news conference at his office in South Jakarta.
Juliari was assisted by two middlemen identified as Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono, other suspects in the case, he said.
"The fee from every Rp 300,000 social assistance package was set at Rp 10,000 by MJS and AW," Firli said, referring to the middlemen.
Between May and November, both men have represented the Social Affairs Ministry to offer the project to a number of private contractors and made a deal with them.
The project was carried out at two stages.
At the first stage, Juliari accepted Rp 8.2 billion channeled to two close aides, Firli said.
"The money has been used to finance JPB’s personal expenses," Firli said of Juliari.
The second stage of social assistance package procurement was implemented between October and December, from which the minister and his two accomplices have collected Rp 8.8 billion, he added.
In several occasions, Firli has earlier warned against misappropriation of the government’s humanitarian aid funds, saying that according to the anti-corruption law, that crime could risk a death sentence.
Pressed again about the law, he responded: “Yes we understand that according to Article 2 and Section 2 of the Anti-Corruption Law, the crime is punishable by death.”
At least five people have been named suspects in the case, including two businessmen identified as Ardian I.M. and Harry Sidabuke.
Four active ministers have been named suspects or convicted of corruption since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014.
Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi and Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham have already been convicted.
The latter was convicted guilty of corruption unrelated to his ministerial job, while Imam is serving a jail term for accepting bribe while in office.