KPK raids Social Affairs Ministry for probe into rice-aid corruption Nina A. Loasana and Yerica Lai (The Jakarta Post) PREMIUM

  • Thu, 1 June 2023

KPK raids Social Affairs Ministry for probe into rice-aid corruption Nina A. Loasana and Yerica Lai (The Jakarta Post) PREMIUM

Jakarta, May 22, 2022

    The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has launched an investigation into the Social Affairs Ministry, which is currently led by Tri "Risma" Rismaharini of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), in connection to an alleged corruption related to the distribution of the government-funded rice assistance.

     Investigators came to the ministry in Jakarta on Tuesday without prior notice and raided the office of social empowerment director general for eight hours to seize documents and electronic devices, ministry spokesperson Don Rozano Sigit said. "We welcomed them and we cooperatively complied with requests made by the KPK team of investigators," Don said on Wednesday, adding that, as instructed by Risma, the ministry would continue to fully cooperate with the KPK.

     KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri has confirmed the raid, saying that it was part of the agency's probe into the corruption case related to the distribution of rice to recipients of the government-funded social assistance Family Hope Program (PKH) from 2020 to 2021. "In time, we will announce those who have been named as suspects, the construction of the case in a complete manner, including the applied articles," Ali said in his statement on Tuesday. He added that during the raid investigators had found various documents and files related to the case, and that the confiscated evidence would be further analyzed by the graft-busting agency.

      In a press conference earlier on Wednesday, the minister said upon receiving information that the KPK was searching the office of the directorate general in question, she immediately suspected that "the investigation is related to BGR." Risma was referring to a state-owned logistics company, PT Bhanda Ghara Reksa Logistik, which reportedly took part in the distribution of the ministry's free rice to people who were.daadly affectedly, the COVID-10 outbreak before she assumed office. Risma maintained her innocence, saying she knew nothing about the alleged corruption she claimed to have occurred before she was appointed as social affairs minister to replace Juliari Batubara, also from the PDI-P, who was arrested by the KPK in a graft probe.

          Juliari was convicted in 2021 of accepting bribes from private vendors that supplied COVID-19 food aid and is now serving 12 years in prison. It remains unclear whether Juliari's bribery case is connected to the ongoing KPK investigation. "I was appointed by the President in December of 2020, while the case happened around September of that year before. So, I really have no idea about the details of the case. [...] I will not intervene with the investigation," Risma said.

          Despite this, Risma said she has removed several officials allegedly involved in the case from "strategic positions," without naming names. "I have demoted them from the ministry's headquarters and removed them to positions that don't deal with finances, just to be safe," she said. She refused to give further details about the number of officials demoted nor their positions. Risma added that following Juliari's arrest, she always distributed social aids in cash rather than in goods to make the monitoring and auditing process easier, as per instruction from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

           Not long after she assumed office, Jokowi ordered Risma to speed up aid disbursement to maintain the people's purchasing power amid the virus-induced economic slowdown. The KPK has not revealed any suspects in the ongoing corruption investigation. Several news outlets have reported that former president director of Jakarta-owned bus operator Transjakarta, Kuncoro Wibowo, is allegedly implicated in the case. The KPK reportedly has requested the Immigration Office to ban Kuncoro from traveling overseas from Feb. 10 to Aug. 10. Kuncoro was appointed as Transjakarta president director in January of this year, but he resigned just two months after holding the position for unspecified reasons. Before leading Transjakarta, Kuncoro was president director of PT BGR Logistik from 2018 to 2021.

Source==> The Jakatar Post News