Head of regency in Indonesia’s new capital faces bribery allegations — BenarNews

The head of a regency that will be the seat of Indonesia’s new capital is to be detained until next month after he was caught accepting $70,000 in bribes linked to government tenders local, officials said.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said investigators on Wednesday night arrested Abdul Gafur Mas’ud, head of North Penajam Paser regency in East Kalimantan province, at a mall in Jakarta and seized 1 billion rupees ($70,000) in cash.

“The suspect will be detained until February 1 for investigation,” KPK Deputy Chairman Alexander Marwata told reporters on Thursday evening.

The money is believed to be bribes related to local government projects and business licenses, he said.

Investigators also seized 447 million rupees ($31,200) from Abdul Gafur’s bank account, Alexander said.

The money is not linked to plans to move the capital from Jakarta, officials said.

“[T]he KPK caught people in the act late afternoon [Wednesday] in Jakarta and East Kalimantan. Among them were… Penajam regent Paser Utara, several government officials and some from the private sector,” acting KPK spokesman Ali Fikri told Channel News Asia on Thursday.

Alexander said 10 other people have been arrested in Jakarta and East Kalimantan as part of the investigation, but only five are official suspects.

Meanwhile, an activist from the environmental group Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) in East Kalimantan said Abdul Gafur was known as a young businessman with interests such as coal mining.

Activist, Pradarma Rupang, said Abdul Gafur, who was elected in 2018 as one of Indonesia’s youngest regents, was criticized for building an official residence that cost 34 billion rupees ( $2.37 million) last year. This project is not finished.

“The amount is fantastic for a regent’s official residence,” Rupang told BenarNews, calling for an investigation into the expenses.

He also said Abdul Gafur’s arrest is unlikely to affect plans to transfer the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to the regency of North Penajam Paser.

Members of parliament are discussing a bill needed to move the capital and said they expect to pass it later this month.

Arrests for corruption

In December, KPK chairman Firli Bahuri said 109 suspects had been arrested and detained on corruption allegations across the country in 2021.

One of the most high-profile suspects is lawmaker Aziz Syamsuddin, who is on trial for allegedly bribing a former KPK investigator and a lawyer to help stop an investigation into a corruption case.

Firli has come under fire for firing 57 staff – including investigators who had handled major cases – after they were found to have failed the so-called National Outlook Test, which was required to keep their jobs.

Employees had to pass the test when KPK moved from an independent institution to an institution under the executive branch of government. Critics likened the review to a test of ideological purity, alleging it was designed to weed out the agency’s most experienced corruption investigators.

Parliament passed amendments that brought the agency under executive control in 2019. The move sparked street protests where opponents accused the government of using the law to weaken the independence of the agency. anti-corruption agency.

In May, the Constitutional Court rejected a petition by former KPK commissioners to strike down the amended law.

Since its inception in 2002, the KPK has convicted former ministers, governors, central bankers, lawmakers and tycoons.

Despite the record, a November survey by local pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia suggested that public trust in the KPK has deteriorated since 2019. The commission ranked eighth on the list of most trusted institutions, behind the police and the army.