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Indonesia's anti-graft chairman faces corruption case

Indonesia's anti-graft chairman faces corruption case
November 23, 2023 Web Desk

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia has named the chairman of its anti-graft commission as a suspect in a corruption case, according to police, in a setback to the reputation of an agency set up two decades ago after the fall of dictator Suharto.

It is the first time the head of the country's anti-corruption body has been accused of the crime it was created to police.

Graft remains rampant in the archipelago nation, which ranked 110th out of 180 countries in Transparency International's latest corruption perception index.

Police named Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Firli Bahuri as a suspect on Wednesday over allegations of extortion and receiving gifts or gratuities in legal dealings with the agriculture ministry from 2020 to 2023.

Ade Safri Simanjuntak, Jakarta police's director for special crime, told reporters that Bahuri would be questioned "as the KPK chief in his capacity as a suspect in alleged corruption crime".

Last month, former Indonesian agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo was arrested after a series of accusations, including that he pocketed more than $800,000 in public funds.

The allegations against Bahuri are linked to Limpo's case. The KPK chief has denied the accusations on several occasions in the past.

Bahuri -- a former police chief in South Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara provinces who became KPK chief in 2019 -- had not been arrested and police did not say if they intended to detain him.

As part of the probe, police searched two properties, interviewed more than 90 people and seized documents related to more than 7.4 billion Indonesian rupiah ($478,000) in funds, police said.

He could face life in prison if found guilty on bribery charges.

The anti-corruption body's deputy commissioner insisted the agency's work had not been affected by the allegations.

"The KPK leadership... remains solid and committed to ensure the KPK will continue carrying out its duties as mandated by the KPK law," Alexander Marwata told reporters Thursday, adding that Bahuri has not been removed from his post.

Indonesia has arrested scores of public officials for graft in recent years.

In 2021, a former social affairs minister was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of taking $1.2 million in bribes linked to food aid for poor families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.