PLN Chief Denies Links to Power Plant Graft, as KPK Raids His Office, House

PLN president director Sofyan Basyir speaks to reporters in Jakarta on Monday (16/07). (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)

By : Sarah Yuniarni | on 10:38 AM July 17, 2018
Category : Featured, News, Politics & Law

Jakarta. President director of state-owned Perusahaan Listrik Negara, or PLN, denied on Monday (16/07) any involvement in a bribery case surrounding one of the utility company's projects, following a search by the national antigraft agency at his house and the corporation's headquarters in South Jakarta.

"[Corruption Eradication Commission] KPK investigators have just visited our office, searching for documents related to the Riau-1 coal-fired power plant project," the PLN president, Sofyan Basyir, told reporters on Monday night, adding that no documents were confiscated.

Earlier this month, KPK arrested Eni Maulani Saragih, a Golkar Party politician who serves as deputy chairman of House of Representatives Commission VII, which oversees energy, research and technology and environment.

Eni allegedly received a Rp 4.8 billion ($334,000) bribe from one of the shareholders of coal mining company BlackGold Natural Resources Limited, Johannes Kotjo, for the Riau-1 project — a 600 megawatt coal-fired power plant project in Sumatra.

Sofyan told reporters that he is only a witness in the case.

"In accordance with the law, one is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. We are very cooperative with KPK in providing all related information, and proactive to prevent similar cases from happening in the future," Sofyan said.

The Riau plant has been developed by a consortium comprising of PLN subsidiary Pembangkitan Jawa Bali (PJB), BlackGold Natural Resources parent company Samantaka Batubara, and China Huadian Engineering. PJB owns a majority stake of 51 percent.

The $900 million project has not started yet, as BlackGold only received a letter of intent from PJB in January. The project is slated for completion in 2024.

Tender procedures were skipped and PLN directly appointed BlackGold to the consortium, as no suitable bidders have been found since 2016, Sofyan said.

"This case is related to PJB's consortium. It is none of our business," Sofyan said, adding that the project will be halted temporarily.

In a filing to Singapore Exchange on Monday, BlackGold also denied any wrongdoing.

"The directors and management were not, and are not involved whatsoever, in the transaction mentioned in the press article. To further clarify, Mr. Kotjo has ceased being a consultant of the group since June 2018," BlackGold chief executive Philip Cecil Rickard said, referring to an earlier press release by the KPK.

He said that negotiations over the Riau-1 project "have been progressing as intended."

The Riau-1 project is part of the government's 35,000 megawatt national electricity program. PLN has been under tight scrutiny since the past few years, as several corruption cases have already marred its efforts to meet the electrification target.

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