Money matters: Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo arrives at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta on Tuesday to face questioning regarding the graft-ridden construction project of a sports center in Hambalang, Bogor, West Java. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioned Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo as a witness in the high-profile corruption case centering on the construction of the Hambalang sports complex in Bogor, West Java.
Agus was dragged into the case after Rizal Mallarangeng, the brother of former youth and sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, claimed the Finance Ministry was culpable in the Hambalang case. Andi has been named a suspect in the case.
Rizal, a Golkar Party politician, said the finance minister approved the Hambalang project despite irregularities in the budget proposal, allowing the project to transform from a modest single-year project worth Rp 125 billion (US$12.93 million) into a multi-year project worth Rp 1.17 trillion.
Speaking after his questioning session, Agus said the Youth and Sports Ministry was the party that should be held responsible for any misappropriation of budget funds. “The Finance Ministry’s authority is to approve the contract for the multi-year project,” he said.
He explained that he approved the proposal for the multi-year project so that the tender winners did not have to reapply for the project every year. “The multi-year project was not related to the budget [allocation], but to the mechanism of procurement,” Agus said.
Previously, the lawmakers also put the blame on Agus, saying the House of Representative’s Commission X overseeing sports had no role in turning the Hambalang budget into a multi-year plan. “How should the House know about the multi-year scheme? You should read Presidential Decree No. 54 [on multi-year contracts] first,” the former head of the House’s Commission X, Mahyudin NS, said. The lawmaker was referring to a decree regulating government procurement that stipulated that ministries must route multi-year projects through the Finance Ministry.
Agus, however, said that the lawmakers discussed the proposal to turn the project into a multi-year plan at least nine times in 2010, before he became a minister in May 2010.
Rizal claimed that he received information that Agus was pressed by Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, PT Dutasari Citralaras president director Mahfud Suroso and former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin to approve the Hambalang budget during a meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jakarta last year.
Agus denied the meeting ever took place, saying that he had never met Anas until last month, when he met him during a Democratic Party event in Sentul, Bogor.
Besides Agus, the KPK has also questioned other officials from the ministry, including Deputy Finance Minister Anny Ratnawati, who served as the ministry’s director general for budgeting when the go-ahead was given for the Hambalang project, and the ministry’s former secretary-general, Mulia Nasution.
The graft case centers on the construction project of a sports center in Hambalang, Bogor, 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 Daud to Andi in 2009 as it found a huge discrepancy between the actual cost of building 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 its first suspect in the case, Dedy Kusnidar, 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, making him the first active minister to be charged with graft.
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.