The suspected middleman in the bribery scandal at the oil and gas regulator SKK Migas is related to a member of the executive board of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's ruling Democratic Party.
Achsanul Qosasi confirmed on Sunday that he had family ties with Deviardi, or Ardi, who allegedly acted as a middleman for SKK Migas chief Rudi Rubiandini, who was arrested last weekend for allegedly accepting US$700,000 in bribes from a foreign company.
Ardi was arrested along with Rudi at the latter's house on Jl. Brawijaya in South Jakarta as he delivered $400,000 in alleged bribe money to Rudi.
Achsanul, however, said that he rarely spoke with Ardi as he was merely a distant relative. 'His parent-in-law is a cousin of my parent-in-law. Look at it this way I'm Madurese and he is Riaunese,' Achsanul told The Jakarta Post, pointing out the distance of his ties with Ardi.
He also denied the allegation that Ardi was a member of the Democratic Party. 'It's not true. Just check the party's website and see if you can find his name,' said Achsanul.
The party, whose ministers have long controlled the nation's oil and gas sector, is struggling to distance itself from the bribery scandal at SKK Migas.
The Corruption Eradication Commission ( KPK ) said that corruption in the oil and gas industry was 'systemic' and suggested that Rudi could not have acted alone.
KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas said over the weekend that the three suspects in the graft case, including Rudi, could not have engaged in corruption by themselves.
'Corruption is a systemic practice in which there is no such thing as a one-man show, especially for graft in the oil and gas industry,' he said.
Busyro said that the antigraft body would look into the bribery scandal and see whether leaders within the sector, including Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik, were culpable.
'If the trail leads to the leadership, then it is our obligation to summon [Jero],' he said.
Jero, who is also a Democratic Party politician, was dragged into the case when the KPK confiscated $200,000 as well as documents from the office of ministry secretary-general Waryono Karyo during a raid in connection with the case at the ministry on Thursday.
Both Waryono and Jero said they 'had no idea' why the investigators had linked the probe into the scandal to Waryono, with Jero quickly dismissing links between the case and the ministry by saying that the money found in Waryono's office was for operational purposes.
KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto said that Jero's claim was dubious given the large amount of cash found and the fact that it was in a foreign currency. 'If the minister says that it was for operational purposes, then fine, we will check it out,' he said on Sunday.