My first story with byline published on the Jakarta Post paper edition: KPK grills Jero Wacik in bribery case

KPK grills Jero Wacik in bribery case

Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Tue, December 03 2013, 9:34 AM

Top witness: Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik arrives at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which summoned him for questioning as a witness in a high-profile investigation into bribery charges against former chairman of the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas), Rudi Rubiandini, on Monday. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioned Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik on Monday as a witness in the bribery case implicating former Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) chief Rudi Rubiandini.

Jero finally answered the KPK summons after failing to show up for questioning last week.

Speaking after the questioning, Jero maintained that he had no knowledge about the US$200,000 in cash found in the office of the ministry’s secretary-general, Waryono Karno.

Jero was also unable to say whether the cash was to support the ministry’s operations. “I don’t know about it. Just ask the ministry’s secretary-general,” he said.

During a raid in August, KPK investigators found the money in Waryono’s office at the ministry. The cash is suspected to have been part of a bribe. Earlier, Jero had said that the money was to be used for operational purposes.

Rudi was allegedly caught red-handed accepting $400,000 in bribes, from a total commitment fee of $700,000, from Singapore-based oil trading company Kernel Oil Pte Ltd. through an alleged middleman, Deviardi, in early October in exchange for allocating several oil blocks to the firm.

In September, the antigraft body was forced to deny claims that Jero had been named a suspect in the case, after a photograph of a purportedly classified KPK document showed that he would be charged pending approval from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

During Monday’s questioning, Jero explained to the KPK investigators about the procedures in SKKMigas and that he was not in charge of the agency’s day-to-day operations. “All things relating to operational issues, tenders or other matters were the full responsibility of the SKKMigas chief,” said Jero, who is also a senior Democratic Party politician and a close confidant of the President.

Waryono himself was also questioned by the KPK on Monday.

“I just gave additional information [to the investigators],” he told reporters without elaborating.

When asked if the investigators pressed him on the $200,000 found in his office, Waryono said: “No. I think I already clarified that issue.”

Waryono denied that the money was for operational purposes.

The SKKMigas bribery case has implicated a number of individuals including senior members of the House of Representatives.

During a trial session last week, Rudi said that he had been pressurized by lawmakers in House Commission VII overseeing energy and natural mineral resources to expedite the payment of Idul Fitri holiday bonuses in 2013.

Because of the pressure, Rudi said he gave $200,000 to a commission member from the Democratic Party, Tri Yulianto, who had reportedly received instructions from fellow Democratic Party lawmaker Sutan Bhatoegana to take the money.

Some lawmakers from the commission who have been accused of making the demand, including Teuku Rifky of the Democratic Party and Dewi Aryani of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), have denied the allegations.

A lawyer for alleged middleman Deviardi, Effendi Saman, said that the Democratic Party was not the only political party that had a role in the bribery case as the PDI-P and the Golkar Party were also involved.


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