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Jakarta Post

‘It wasn’t my idea’: Lippo Group’s James Riady denies involvement in Meikarta case

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Sat, February 9, 2019   /   05:07 pm
‘It wasn’t my idea’: Lippo Group’s James Riady denies involvement in Meikarta case Presiding judge Tardi (left) assists businessman James Riady (right) to swear the witness oath before testifying at a session of a graft trial involving the Meikarta development at the Bandung Corruption Court on Wednesday. James refuted the testimony of another witness, suspended Bekasi regent Neneng Hasanah Yasin, who claimed she had seen the Meikarta project design and heard it discussed when James, along with Lippo Group executive Billy Sindoro and PT Lippo Cikarang president director Bartholomeus Toto, visited her residence. The Meikarta Township is being developed by PT Mahkota Sentosa Utama, a subsidiary of PT Lippo Cikarang, which is part of the Lippo Group. (The Jakarta Post/Arya Dipa)

Lippo Group deputy chairman James Riady recently denied allegations at the Bandung Corruption Court that he took part in any graft involving permits for the Meikarta township development project in Bekasi, West Java.

The megaproject, planned on 5,400 hectares of land in Cikarang, has been under a legal spotlight since the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested and named as suspects Bekasi Regent Neneng Hasanah Yasin and Lippo Group operational director Billy Sindoro, as well as several other top officials in the administration, for their alleged roles in bribery connected to the issuance of property permits for the project.

James, who was present as a witness after being summoned twice to court, testified that he knew nothing about any bribery involving the conglomerate that he leads, even though he attended several launch ceremonies for the project.

“The Meikarta project was not my idea at all and not a project that I developed personally. It was a project that is to be launched [soon] and I was invited to the launch ceremonies for marketing purposes,” James told the panel of judges on Tuesday, adding that the ceremonies were held at the Hotel Aryaduta in Central Jakarta on May 4, 2017, and at the project site on May 13, 2017.

During the trial hearing, James said that along with Billy and PT Lippo Cikarang president director Bartholomeus Toto he went to Neneng’s house to visit her and her newborn child. He said the visit coincided with his arrival at the Meikarta sales office.

"I don't remember talking about other things at that time. The regent talked more than I did. She talked about education a lot. I don't remember about Toto and Billy talking business,” he said.

James also contradicted Neneng’s testimony. She had said that Billy and Toto had shown the project map for Meikarta.

The Meikarta developer allegedly promised Rp 13 billion (US$856,888) in bribes to the Bekasi regency administration for issuing the relevant permits, of which Rp 7 billion had reportedly been transferred. (das/swd)