House Deputy Speaker Detained for Corruption Charges
Jakarta. House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Azis Syamsuddin was detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, just after midnight on Saturday for allegedly bribing an anti-graft official.
Azis, a senior member of the Golkar Party, was handcuffed and dressed in an orange vest as he was taken to the South Jakarta Police detention facility soon after he was named a corruption suspect.
He has allegedly bribed KPK investigator Stepanus Robin Pattuju in an attempt to drop graft investigation into fraudulent budget allocation for his electoral district in Central Lampung, Lampung province.
Azis, then chairman of the powerful budget committee of the House, has allegedly demanded an 8 percent fee for the Central Lampung funding to be approved back in 2017.
Azis and fellow Golkar member Aliza Gunado agreed to pay the disgraced investigator Rp 2 billion ($140,000) each as both politicians could potentially become suspects in the Central Lampung funding case, KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri said in a news conference early on Saturday.
In August of last year, they began to hand money to Stepanus in US dollar, Singaporean dollar and rupiah denominations.
“Of the promised Rp 4 billion, Rp 3.1 billion were materialized,” Firli said.
Earlier on Friday, Azis declined a KPK summons claiming that he was self-isolating for Covid-19. The KPK sent a medical team and investigators to his South Jakarta home and he was arrested for questioning at the KPK headquarters after testing negative for Covid-19.
After several hours of interrogation, Azis was officially named a suspect and detained for the next 20 days, Firli said.
According to KPK’s public records, Azis has personal wealth of Rp 100 billion ($7 million).
The KPK began to investigate his alleged role in April, when investigators searched his office and home.
Azis, 51, could be charged with another corruption case also involving Stepanus.
The lawmaker is alleged to have brokered an agreement between the investigator and M. Syahrial, the mayor of Tanjungbalai in the province of North Sumatra.
The mayor was facing his own corruption investigation that could derail his reelection ambition and he came to Azis for help, according to the indictment against Stepanus, who has been on trial since September 13.
Azis arranged a meeting between Stepanus and Syahrial at his official residence in South Jakarta in October last year during which the mayor asked the investigator to make sure he was not prosecuted by the KPK ahead of the mayoral election.
The trial against Syahrial began in July.