Haeril Halim and Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post | Headlines | Fri, January 17 2014, 9:54 AM
The corruption scandal at the Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) crept up the ranks of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry toward minister Jero Wacik on Thursday, after the ministry’s former secretary-general was charged for his alleged role in the high-profile case.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesperson Johan Budi said investigators had strong grounds for naming Waryono Karyo a suspect in a case that has already implicated former SKKMigas head Rudi Rubiandini, who is standing trial for allegedly accepting bribes totaling US$2.6 million from businesses and colleagues at the agency.
“WK [Waryono] has been accused of accepting gifts [bribes] in his capacity as the ministry’s secretary-general and of violating Law No.20/2001 on corruption,” Johan said without disclosing from whom Wayono had accepted the bribes.
During a raid at Waryono’s office in August last year, the KPK confiscated $200,000. Jero, a senior Democratic Party (PD) politician, has repeatedly denied allegations that the money, which was allegedly from Rudi, was intended for him.
When asked whether the new legal status of Waryono would also drag Jero into the case, Johan said that KPK had yet to schedule a questioning session for Jero in relation to Waryono’s charges. Jero was questioned by the KPK as a witness for Rudi on Dec. 3 last year.
“We will investigate the case further to find other possible suspects,” Johan said.
Separately, Jero said his office respected the ongoing investigation into corruption in his ministry. “We will leave it all to the KPK,” he said after an event at the Presidential Office on Thursday.
He claimed he did not know about the money received by Waryono and refused to be blamed for his subordinate’s wrongdoing.
Rudi has insinuated that authorities within the energy sector were involved in his case.
After the first hearing of his trial at the Jakarta Corruption Court last week, Rudi said there were demands from the agency’s “stakeholders” for money in exchange for the smooth operation of the agency.
“It’s true I accepted bribes,” said Rudi. “But that was after I strongly tried to resist for five months from January to May . However, pressure from stakeholders, coupled with the enormous offers, finally forced me to resort to it.”
The SKKMigas scandal has also dragged in a number of politicians, including two PD politicians at the House of Representatives.
On Thursday, Johan said KPK investigators raided a number of places, including offices belonging to members of House of Representatives’ Commission VII overseeing energy and mineral resources — PD lawmakers Sutan Bhatoegana and Tri Yulianto — as well as Golkar Party lawmaker Zainuddin Amali, in relation to Rudi’s case. The KPK also raided Sutan and Zainuddin’s private residences.
Rudi told the Jakarta Corruption Court while testifying in the case of graft defendant Deviardi in November that he had been pressed by House Commission VII to pay Idul Fitri holiday bonuses in 2013, locally known as THR.
Due to the pressure, Rudi said he had given $200,000 to Tri, who was reportedly instructed by Sutan.
Sutan and Tri Yulianto were questioned in November last year.
It was still unclear why KPK investigators raided Zainuddin’s office and house, but it raised suspicions that a number of commission members had received money from Rudi.
KPK prosecutors said Rudi had received S$200,000 and $900,000 from Singapore-based oil trading firm Kernel Oil in return for a guarantee to allocate various oil blocks, as well as $522,500 from PT Kaltim Parna Industri for his services in lowering the price of gas sold to the firm.