The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Friday grilled Zulkarnaen Mallarangeng, known as Choel, over his role in a graft scandal that led to the resignation of his brother, Andi Mallarangeng, as youth and sports minister.
Choel was escorted by his other brother, Rizal Mallarangeng, when he arrived at the KPK’s headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
He told reporters he was ready to face prosecution if the KPK decided to name him a graft suspect.
After the questioning, Choel admitted to receiving money from Dedy Kusdinar, the first suspect in the case, when he visited his house on his birthday on Aug. 28, 2011. “It was Saturday and at that time Dedy gave some [money], of which the amount, I realized later, was quite a lot,” he said.
He said he was willing to give the money back and was willing to bear any legal consequences. “I am ready to be held responsible and I am also ready if I am asked to give the money back. I hope my brother’s name can be cleared because I know he didn’t know anything about this,” he said.
Choel said that he did not know Dedy’s real intention after the latter gave the money to him. He also denied that the money was somehow related to the Hambalang project. “He [Dedy] never talked about Hambalang with me. I first learned about Hambalang in April 2011 when the KPK arrested Wafid Muharram,” he said.
Rizal said that Choel was asked 15 questions in approximately 10 hours in relation to the roles of Dedy
Kusdinar and Andi in the case.
The graft case centers on the construction project of a sports center in Hambalang, Bogor, West Java, which is believed to have been rife with irregularities.
The KPK found indications of graft when the project was handed over from Andi’s predecessor, Adhyaksa Dault, to Andi in 2009. The total cost of the project reportedly swelled from Rp 125 billion (US$12,950) to Rp 1.17 trillion.
KPK officials have found a huge gap between the actual cost required to build the sports complex and the proposed budget allocation for the project.
The KPK launched its investigation into the case in late 2010 and questioned nearly a hundred witnesses before it named the first suspect in the case, Dedy, in July 2012. Dedy was then the chief of the youth and sports ministry’s financial and internal affairs bureau.
Five months later, the KPK named then youth and sports minister Andi a suspect while at the same time imposing a travel ban on Choel and a businessman named M. Arif Taufiqrahman.
A day after being named a suspect, Andi tendered his resignation from his ministerial post to focus on his legal problems, saying he did not want to become a liability to the Cabinet.
Andi, who was considered a rising star in the ruling Democratic Party before his fall from grace, is expected to shed light on the graft case that has also implicated other Democratic Party politicians.
Former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin had repeatedly accused Andi and Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum of accepting kickbacks from the project. Anas has already been questioned by the antigraft body but has not been identified as a suspect.