The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Ajay Muhammad Priatna, the mayor of Cimahi, West Java, in a raid on Friday morning, as well as the director of a local hospital and several other officials.
This is the third time that a mayor of the city has been nabbed by the antigraft body, sparking concerns about entrenched corruption in an administrative region that was established less than two decades ago.
The KPK detained Ajay and the owner of the Kasih Bunda General Hospital, Hutama Yonathan, over alleged bribery related to the issuance of a building permit for the hospital’s expansion. Both men were named suspects.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, KPK chairman Firli Bahuri said the commission had received a tip-off that Ajay was expected to receive a bribe from Hutama through intermediaries.
Cynthia Gunawan, an employee of the hospital, was supposed to hand the money over to Yanti Rahmayanti, an affiliate of Ajay’s, at a restaurant in Bandung, West Java, on Friday morning.
“Cynthia met with YR [Yanti] and handed over a white plastic bag that we suspected was filled with cash. The KPK team moved in to arrest Cynthia and YR then and there,” Firli said during the live-streamed briefing.
The KPK detained 11 people for questioning, including Ajay’s assistant Farid, Yanti’s driver Endi and a private employee named Dominikus Djoni.
The commission also arrested Kasih Bunda Hospital director Nuningsih; the head of Cimahi’s One-Stop Integrated Services Agency (PTSP), Hella Hairani; the Cimahi PTSP’s head of services, Aa Rustam; and Cynthia’s driver Kamaludin.
Rp 425 million (US$ 30,183) in cash and several documents from the Kasih Bunda Hospital were seized during the raid.
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Firli said investigators had traced the exchange back to a plan last year to construct a new building in the hospital complex. The hospital needed to obtain a building permit (IMB) from the city services agency.
However, the owner of the hospital, Hutama, instead met with Ajay at a restaurant, where it is alleged that Ajay asked for Rp 3.2 billion in exchange for ensuring that the permit would be issued. The figure was about 10 percent of the hospital’s estimated expansion costs.
The two men allegedly agreed that the Rp 3.2 billion would be paid in installments through their respective intermediaries, Cynthia and Yanti.
In order to avoid detection, both parties allegedly forged receipts to account for the transactions. Five such payments allegedly took place since May 6 with some Rp 1.66 billion paid to Ajay.
Both men face multiple charges of bribery under the 2001 Corruption Law.
Ajay has been charged under Articles 11, 12(a) and 12(b) of the law for receiving bribes as a state official. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a Rp 1 billion fine if found guilty.
Hutama has been charged under Articles 5(1)a, 5(1)b and 13 of the law for bribing a state official. He faces up to five years in prison and a Rp 250 million fine.
Two former Cimahi mayors have been embroiled in corruption cases since the city administration’s founding in 2001.
On Aug. 30, 2017, the Bandung District Court sentenced former Cimahi mayor Atty Suharti to four years in prison for bribery in connection with the development of Cimahi’s Baru Atas market.
Atty’s husband, Itoc Tochija, who is also a former mayor of the city, also served seven years in prison for the same case. Itoc died of an illness on Sept. 14, 2019, before he was able to complete his sentence.
Firli said he was concerned about the persistence of corruption in Cimahi.
“The KPK hopes that what is being done in this region will be a lesson for all other regional leaders not to make the same [mistakes],” he said.