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Jakarta Post

VP in peril as KPK steps up Bank Century probe

  • Hans Nicholas Jong and Yuliasri Perdani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, November 18, 2013   /  09:40 am

The Corruption Eradication Commission'€™s (KPK) arrest of former Bank Indonesia (BI) deputy governor Budi Mulya for his alleged role in the Bank Century case may lead to the prosecution of Vice President Boediono, who headed the central bank in 2008 when it bailed out Century to avert financial crisis.

KPK chairman Abraham Samad said that Budi'€™s arrest was a starting point for understanding the roles other major players had in the bailout, which caused massive state losses. In a 2010 vote, the House of Representatives decided the bailout had been illegal.

'€œIt will help us to clearly see those implicated in the case. According to our investigation so far, we believe that there are more actors, other than Budi, who were responsible for wrongdoing in the Century case,'€ Abraham said on the sidelines of a book launch event in South Jakarta on Sunday.

The KPK chief said that the disbursement of bailout funds was based on a '€œcollective collegial system'€, meaning that responsibility for any wrongdoing in the appropriation of the funds was shared by all those behind the decision.

Abraham, however, declined to confirm whether the KPK investigation would target Boediono, who was then BI governor, and former finance minister and current managing director of the World Bank, Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

'€œTo determine their roles we need to examine the case further. I believe that the prosecution of Budi will clearly reveal those who were responsible. Therefore, the public should not worry that some individuals will be protected. All will be revealed,'€ he added.

When asked whether the KPK would summon the vice president in the near future, Abraham answered, '€œInsyaallah [God willing] that will be done.'€ He added that no one was above the law.

Bambang Soesatyo of the Golkar Party, one of the lawmakers who initiated the inquiry into the bailout, lauded the KPK'€™s move to detain Budi and expected the agency would apprehend '€œthe other culprits, including Boediono'€.

'€œDecision-making in the BI was collective. If Budi was guilty, then the BI governor would have to share responsibility,'€ he said.

The Century case is seen by many as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono'€™s Achilles heel, with his rivals repeatedly using the issue to assail his leadership. The possible prosecution of Boediono ahead of the 2014 elections would deal a severe blow to the president'€™s party, several members of which have already been jailed for corruption.

Contacted on Sunday, Boediono'€™s spokesman, Yopie Hidayat, refused to comment on the suggestion that Budi'€™s arrest could jeopardize the vice president.

In September, however, Yopie said that Boediono was ready to face the investigators in the Century case. '€œIt'€™s not a problem. The vice president will be happy to help the KPK in the probe should they need it,'€ he said at the time.

Boediono, a professor of economics at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), has rarely spoken to the media after being elected vice president.

Last year, however, he posted 17 messages on his official Twitter account @Boediono in defense of the Rp 6.76 trillion (US$757.12 million) Century bailout.

He said it was necessary to save the country'€™s economy, which was on the brink of recession. '€œThe Indonesian people now enjoy the benefits of that policy because Indonesia survived the 2008 global economic crisis.'€

In his most recent message, he said he would stand behind his decision to bail out the bank and that he would take responsibility for the consequences of it.

Zainal Arifin Muchtar, legal expert and researcher at Gadjah Mada University'€™s Center for Anticorruption Studies, said that Boediono'€™s fate was now in the hands of Budi. '€œIt all depends on the quality [of information] extracted from Budi,'€ he said.

Zainal, however, was hesitant to say whether the arrest of Budi was a bad omen for the vice president. '€œThere'€™s still a debate going on over who should be named a suspect and who is responsible,'€ he said.

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