Police chief hopeful failed KPK, PPATK screening
Margareth S. Aritonang and Haeril Halim
The Jakarta Post
National Police chief nominee Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, a confidant of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's patron, is said to have failed a screening by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) during a ministerial selection last year.
Former PPATK chairman Yunus Husein, who is widely regarded as having an unquestionable record of integrity, revealed to The Jakarta Post that Jokowi had previously ruled out Budi for the post of administrative and bureaucratic reform minister in October due to concerns over his vulnerability to corruption investigations.
'He [Budi] received the 'red flag' from the KPK and the PPATK, which is why Jokowi dropped him from the Cabinet selection,' Yunus said recently.
In late October, Jokowi dropped eight candidates the KPK had flagged as liable to graft investigations, but neglected to identify them by name.
In light of the warning from the KPK and the PPATK, Yunus, through his Twitter account @YunusHusein, questioned on Sunday Jokowi's decision to nominate Budi.
'This may degrade public trust in the administration and the police force,' said Yunus.
'The President should consider [the KPK and the PPATK's previous rejection] and not bow to political pressure from other parties that may have interests in the matter,' he said.
Amid suspicions that Budi was among several generals red-flagged by the PPATK for having fat bank accounts that contained some Rp 54 billion (US$4.28 million), Jokowi submitted on Friday Budi's nomination letter to the House of Representatives for endorsement.
In response to Yunus' revelation, PPATK chairman Muhammad Yusuf told the Post that he would divulge all the information his office had collected during its investigation into Budi's bank accounts.
'I will reveal all during a hearing [at the House regarding Budi's nomination],' he said.
On Jan. 19, the House's Commission III overseeing legal affairs and laws, human rights and security is slated to carry out its screening of Budi, who is currently the National Police's head of training and education division.
Commission III chairman Aziz Syamsuddin said the House might call on the KPK and the PPATK to clarify escalating opposition from anticorruption activists over Budi's nomination.
Although Budi has yet to formally address concerns to his bank accounts before the House, lawmakers with the opposition Red-and-White Coalition have conveyed support for Budi.
Legislator Bambang Soesatyo from the Golkar Party, the opposition camp's largest faction, has openly endorsed Budi, while the position of Gerindra Party lawmakers is not yet clear.
Meanwhile, Jokowi has declined to explain why he opted not to consult the KPK and the PPATK before nominating Budi as he did when selecting his Cabinet.
'It was Kompolnas [National Police Commission] which gave me the recommendation. From that, we made a choice. Now, let us wait for the process at the House [of Representatives],' Jokowi said
A document obtained by the Post revealed that Kompolnas, supposedly an independent police watchdog, proposed nine individuals to Jokowi, with Budi ranked sixth on its list of recommended candidates.
The Post also learned that in 2010, after handing over evidence of Budi's allegedly dubious transactions to the National Police, the PPATK received a clarification letter declaring Budi's accounts 'clean and clear'.
Insisting that the discovery demanded an investigation, the PPATK later reported the findings to the KPK.
A source with deep knowledge of the matter said that the KPK was still collecting evidence in order to confirm that Budi's hefty accounts were in fact generated through bribes.
KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto did not deny that the agency was currently looking into Budi's accounts, but declined to respond when asked whether outgoing National Police chief Gen. Sutarman had thrown his support behind the KPK's investigation.
'It's not the proper time to answer [that question],' Bambang told the Post on Monday.
According to a source at the Presidential Palace, Budi's nomination was due to his close ties to chairwoman of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Budi was formerly an adjutant of Megawati when she served as president between 2001 and 2004.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla also reportedly supports the nomination after Budi successfully lobbied Megawati to back Kalla as Jokowi's running mate in last year's presidential election, according to the source.
Budi did not reply to the Post's request for an interview on Monday. He has, however, previously denied the allegations and said the National Police had confirmed that his large bank balances came from legal sources.
Ina Parlina also contributed to the story
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