Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Yet another corruption case begins to unfold

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 The Jakarta Post

Yet another corruption case begins to unfold

Dian Kuswandini , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Tue, 08/19/2008

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said Monday it had searched the office of Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban for material evidence in connection with a new graft case.

The Friday raid was also related to a bribery scandal over a mangrove forest conversion in Banyuasin, South Sumatra, in which Kaban was implicated, KPK deputy chairman M. Jasin said.

But Jasin declined to provide information about the new corruption case, nor did he say whether it involved Kaban.

The search drew a protest from the minister, who said the KPK had seized documents that were not related to the Banyuasin forest conversion.
The minister demanded the KPK publicly reveal the documents it had confiscated.

"The search was not only to find evidence on the mangrove forest conversion case, but was also part of our investigation into another case," Jasin said.

He said the KPK could continue its search at the Forestry Ministry to seize further evidence if preliminary investigations indicated that was necessary.
"We don't just carry out a search without authority. Our searches are always based on Article 12 of the KPK law," Jasin said in response to Kaban's protest.

Article 12 of the KPK law gives the commission the right to arrest and detain someone, conduct searches and seize evidence in any corruption case it is investigating. The law also stipulates that the search procedure refers to the 1981 law on criminal procedure.

"We have already carried out hundreds of searches and none of them was found to be a violation. Why is this one being made an issue?" Jasin said.
During Friday's raid, KPK investigators broke into the offices of the Forestry Ministry secretary-general and members of the general affairs, finance and planning divisions.

The KPK had previously said the search was an extension of an investigation into alleged bribery related to the conversion of a mangrove forest for the construction of the Tanjung Api-Api seaport in Banyuasin.
The case has implicated two members of the House of Representatives' Commission IV overseeing forestry, agriculture and fisheries: Yusuf Emir Faisal of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Sarjan Taher of the Democratic Party (PD).

In the South Sumatra administration master plan, the Tanjung Api-Api mangrove forest is a protected area. The construction of the Tanjung Api-Api seaport is scheduled to finish by July next year.

Kaban has said the forest conversion was legitimate under the law.
Yusuf, the husband of famous singer Hetty Koes Endang, admitted he accepted money in relation to the Banyuasin conversion project, but said he had handed the money over to the PKB in accordance with party regulations.

According to Yusuf's lawyer Sela Salomo, his client received Rp 800 million (US$87,500) from an unknown party, Rp 300 million of which he handed over to then PKB treasurer Aries Djuanedi.

The remaining Rp 500 million was given to deputy party chairman Muamir Muin Syam, Sela said.

Yusuf is the sixth lawmaker to be declared a suspect in the case this year. The KPK earlier arrested Saleh Djasit and Hamka Yandhu of the Golkar Party, Al Amin Nasution of the United Development Party (PPP) and Sarjan and Bulyan Royan of the Reform Star Party (PBR) in separate corruption cases.

Kaban recently defied two KPK summonses for questioning as a witness in the embezzlement of Rp 100 billion from the central bank.