The Jakarta Post
Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara has been named a suspect in a graft case involving the distribution of COVID-19 social aid.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Firli Bahuri said during a press conference on Sunday morning that Juliari, along with his subordinates Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono, had purportedly accepted roughly Rp 12 billion (US$582,020) in bribes from a number of suppliers during the first wave of the ministry’s aid distribution earlier this year.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician had instructed Matheus and Adi to handpick and strike distribution deals entailing commission fees with several suppliers, including Ardian IM and Harry Sidabuke, as well as PT RPI – a private company allegedly owned by Matheus – for a period of between May and November, according to Firli.
Matheus, Adi, Ardian and Harry were also named suspects in the case.
“It started with the distribution of COVID-19 social aid consisting of daily supplies from the Social Affairs Ministry, which was worth Rp 5.9 billion with a total of 272 contracts over the course of two [waves],” he said.
“[Matheus and [Adi] had agreed on a Rp 10,000 fee for each aid package costing Rp 300,000.”
Firli went on to say that Juliari’s personal share throughout the first wave of the aid distribution had totaled Rp 8.2 billion. The funds were then managed by Juliari’s confidantes – identified only as EK and SN – to finance the minister’s personal life, he added.
The second wave of distribution from October to December had yielded around Rp 8.8 billion in bribes, the KPK found.
Juliari was arrested and taken to the KPK building in South Jakarta at 2:45 a.m.
He is charged under articles 12 or 11 of the Corruption Law.
Juliari previously brushed off mounting criticism surrounding the delivery of aid, claiming that data discrepancies in social assistance distribution during the pandemic were not the central administration’s responsibility.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had ordered his administration to maintain transparency in the distribution of social assistance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, stressing that the public should know the details about those who are eligible to receive the aid and what type of aid is being distributed.
Nevertheless, Juliari has said: “Whether prospective beneficiaries are eligible or ineligible, that is not our responsibility. Regional administrations understand this better."
He added that in the current "very abnormal" conditions during the pandemic, the government couldn't afford the “luxury” of doing data verification and revalidation.