Jakarta. Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara has turned himself in on Sunday after the anti-corruption agency named him as a suspect in a graft case related to the government's Covid-19 social aid program.
The Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) politician became the second minister in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to be arrested for corruption in the past two weeks after Edhy Prabowo, another politician from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), who allegedly received bribes for lobster seed export permits.
Juliari arrived at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building at around 02.45 a.m. on Sunday, wearing a black jacket, brown pants, black hat, and mask with several KPK officers accompanying him.
A few hours earlier, KPK chairman Firli Bahuri told a press conference that Juliari allegedly received Rp 17 billion ($1.2 million) in kickbacks from suppliers of staple foods used in the Covid-19 social assistance program in the Greater Jakarta area.
From May to November, two of Juliari's aides, Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono, had closed procurement deals with several suppliers as partners, including Ardian IM, Harry Sidabuke, and Rajawali Parama Indonesia (RPI), a company allegedly controlled by Matheus.
"The appointment of RPI as one of the partners was allegedly known by JPB and approved by AW," said Firli, referring to the suspects by their initials.
"It was JPB as the social affairs minister who appointed MJS and AW as commitment-making officials in implementing the project by directly appointing partners," Firli said.
Unlike other regions in Indonesia that receive Covid-19 relief social aids in cash, people in the Greater Jakarta area received the aids in staple foods — including rice, oil, and canned sardines, among others — worth Rp 300,000 per package. The Social Affairs Ministry set aside Rp 5.9 trillion for a total of 272 staple food procurement contracts carried out in two periods, Firli said.
"The kickbacks agreed upon by MJS and AW was Rp 10,000 for each packaged valued at Rp 300,000," Firli said.
In the implementation of the first period of the basic food assistance package, KPK suspected Matheus collected Rp 12 billion in kickbacks, some of which he gave to Juliari through Adi.
"The money was then managed by EK (Eko) and SH (Shelvy N) as Juliari's trusted people to be used to pay for various personal needs of JPB," Firli said.
For the second period of implementing the basic food assistance package, fee money was collected from October 2020 to December 2020, amounting to around Rp.8.8 billion, which is also suspected to be used for Juliari's needs.
KPK also arrested Matheus, Adi, Ardian, and Harry in several places around Jakarta early on Saturday. Along with the suspects, KPK also confiscated cash of around Rp 14.5 billion in various currency denominations.
Hasto Kristiyanto, PDI-P's secretary-general, said Juliari's case should serve as a reminder for the party members to avoid corruption. Afterall, Juliari was the second PDI-P member in the past week to get arrested for corruption after Banggai Laut district head Wenny Bukarno.
"We always insist that power is for the people. Anyone is prohibited from abusing power, especially committing corruption. When it comes to this, PDI Perjuangan Chairwoman Mrs. Megawati [Soekarnoputri) always warns against breaking the law," Hasto said on Sunday.
He ensured that the party would give all the support to KPK whenever needed.
"The party respects the entire legal process. The law enforces justice and truth. Everyone is obliged to cooperate with KPK," Hasto. "The legal order is mandatory for a clean government, free from corruption," he said.