The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named Taufik Kurniawan, center, a deputy chairman of the House of Representatives, as a suspect in a bribery case relating to a scheme for securing transfers from the state budget to a district in Central Java. (Antara Photo/Dhemas Reviyanto)

Rotten From the Top: Another House Speaker Named Suspect in Corruption Case

OCTOBER 30, 2018

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency has named House of Representatives deputy speaker Taufik Kurniawan a suspect in a bribery case involving a scheme to secure the transfer of funds from the state budget to a district government in Central Java.

Taufik is the second House speaker to be implicated in corruption in the past 12 months, further cementing the national legislature's reputation as Indonesia's most corrupt state institution.

The National Mandate Party (PAN) politician allegedly received Rp 3.65 billion ($240,000) in kickbacks from Kebumen district head Yahya Fuad for helping the latter secure a Rp 73 billion regional transfer from the 2016 state budget, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairwoman Basaria Panjaitan said at a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday.

"The bribe was allegedly part of a 5 percent cut, out of the total budget allocated to Kebumen district," Basaria said. Kebumen is part of Taufik's constituency, which twice elected him to the national legislature – in 2009 and 2014.

The annual state budget allocates about a third of its spending for direct transfers to provinces and districts to spend on infrastructure or other development projects.

These transfers are a matter of life or death for many local contractors, as most, if not all, local government projects are funded from the state budget. Thus, businessmen often go to great lengths to secure these funds.

In the Kebumen case, it was a local businessman who provided the money for the bribe, Basaria said.

"[Yahya] agreed to a 5 percent cut [for Taufik] and then asked for a 7 percent cut from the partners in Kebumen," Basaria said. She did not say whether Yahya pocketed the difference or used it to pay other perpetrators.

Details of the case emerged in 2016 after several Kebumen officials and businessmen were caught red-handed during a KPK sting operation at several hotels in Yogyakarta and Semarang, Central Java.

The KPK said the sting operation stopped what would have been the third installment of Taufik's cut. The operation also allowed the KPK to build a case against Yahya, who was named a suspect in the bribery case and several others in February.

Besides Taufik, the KPK also named Cipto Waluyo, chairman of the Kebumen local council, a suspect on Monday for allegedly receiving at least of Rp 50 million in bribes from Yahya.

The House has been consistently named the country's most corrupt institution, according to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer surveys.

According to the latest survey conducted in 2017, 54 percent of respondents said they viewed the House as corrupt, higher than the bureaucracy (50 percent) and regional legislative councils (47 percent). Still, it was an improvement from the 2013 survey, in which 89 percent of respondents lamented the House's corrupt behavior.

Golkar Party lawmaker Setya Novanto, who was the House speaker at the time, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in April for his involvement in Indonesia's biggest corruption case: the botched Rp 5.8-trillion procurement project for electronic national identity cards, or e-KTP.