PLN president director Sofyan Basir, left, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani seen during a visit to Kampung Pojok in Sindangsari, Banten, on March 15. (Antara Photo/Asep Fathulrahman)

PLN Chief Declared Suspect in Riau-1 Power Plant Bribery Case

BY :FANA SUPARMAN & TELLY NATHALIA

APRIL 23, 2019

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency has declared Sofyan Basir, president director of state utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara, a suspect in a bribery case involving the Riau-1 coal-fired power plant project.

Saut Situmorang, deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), ‎ said in Jakarta on Tuesday that the agency had reached a conclusion on Sofyan's alleged involvement in the case following its investigation of the four initial suspects – Eni Maulani Saragih, former deputy chairwoman of House of Representatives Commission VII, which oversees energy affairs; Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo, a shareholder in miner Blackgold Natural Resources; Idrus Marham, a former social affairs minister; and Samin Tan, owner of Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal.

The KPK questioned Sofyan on several previous occasions as a witness in the case.

"The KPK has raised the status of the case … by identifying one [more] suspect, S.F.B., general director of PLN," Saut said, referring to Sofyan by his initials.

The agency made its decision on Sofyan's legal status based on several sources of information, including evidence introduced in court against the other suspects.

The former banker is alleged to have assisted Eni in receiving a bribe from Johannes involving the 600-megawatt Riau-1 power plant project on Sumatra Island.

"S.F.B. was allegedly promised an equal amount [of money] as Eni Maulani Saragih and Indrus Marham," the KPK said in a written statement.

Sofyan is facing a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rp 1 billion ($71,000), if found guilty.

Eni was sentenced to six years in prison on March 1 for accepting part of a Rp 4.8 billion bribe from Johannes, whom the Jakarta High Court jailed for four years and six months for his role.

The bribe was paid to Eni and Idrus, both members of Golkar Party, to ensure that Samataka Batubara, a local subsidiary of Singapore-based miner Blackgold Natural Resources, is included in the power plant project.

Idrus received a three-year prison sentence on Tuesday for his involvement. The prosecution initially sought five years.

Samantaka Batubara joined a consortium with China Huadian Engineering and PLN subsidiary Pembangkit Jawa Bali to work on the construction of the $900 million project, which has since been suspended due to the ongoing court cases.

The involvement of Samin of Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal is not yet clear, but the KPK said the businessman had paid two bribes to Eni.

Presumption of Innocence

In response to the PLN director general being declared a suspect, the Ministry State-Owned Enterprises issued a statement on Tuesday urging all parties to respect the ongoing legal process by upholding the principle of presumption of innocence.

The ministry's secretary, Imam Apriyanto Putro, also urged the management of PLN to ensure that the company's operations continue as normal.

PLN issued a statement on Tuesday evening, expressing its employees' concerns over the case.

"We believe our leader and staff will be cooperative when needed to finalize the case," Dedeng Hidayat, head of PLN's legal department, said in the statement.

The company gave assurances that its operations would not be affected.

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