Nina A. Loasana, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Edward "Eddy" Omar Sharif Hiariej as a suspect in a bribery case pertaining to an ownership dispute of a nickel mining company in South Sulawesi.
KPK deputy chair Alexander Marwata confirmed Eddy's suspect status in response to a reporter's question during a press briefing on Thursday.
"That's correct. We signed the [suspect notice issued for Eddy] around two weeks ago," Alexander said.
"There are four suspects in the case: three who allegedly accepted bribes and another who allegedly gave [the bribes]," he added, though he did not identify the other suspects.
Tempo magazine broke the news on Eddy's suspect status in an article published earlier this week, which revealed that KPK commissioners decided at a meeting on Sept. 27 to elevate its case against the deputy law minister into a full investigation.
According to Tempo, the antigraft body received in mid-March a report alleging the deputy minister of committing corruption that was submitted by Sugeng Teguh Santoso, who chairs Indonesia Police Watch (IPW), an independent watchdog founded by police reporters.
The report alleged that Eddy had accepted bribes totaling Rp 7 billion (US$446,000) from businessman Helmut Herawan in exchange for the deputy minister's help in issuing an ownership document in Helmut's name for PT Citra Lampia Mandiri, which operates a 2,660-hectare nickel mining concession in East Luwu, South Sulawesi.
Helmut allegedly transferred the illicit money through accounts belonging to Eddy's two assistants, Yogi Arie Lukmana and Yosi Andika Mulyadi, who then reportedly wired some of the money to Eddy's private account.
Tempo also reported that aside from the alleged bribe, Eddy had accepted other unlawful gifts from Helmut that he later used to fund his campaign for the chairmanship of the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti).
After Sugeng filed his report with the KPK in March, Eddy reportedly visited the antigraft body to "clarify" the bribery allegations against him, including by submitting several pieces of evidence. Following his visit, he told the press that the bribery allegations were "mere defamation".
Investigators then summoned Eddy in July for formal questioning.
KPK investigations director Asep Guntur Rahayu said on Monday that the antigraft body had charged the suspects under Article 12B of the 2001 Corruption Law, which prohibits state officials of accepting unlawful gifts and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a Rp 1 billion fine.
Asep declined to reveal the identities of the three other suspects, saying only that their names would be announced at an official press briefing.
Responding to Eddy's confirmed suspect status, Law and Human Rights Ministry spokesperson Tubagus Erif Faturahman said the deputy ministry had "no idea" that he had been named as a suspect in the case.
In a statement released on Friday, Tubagus said Eddy had yet to receive a Sprindik (investigation order) or a commencement of investigation notice (SPDP) from the KPK.
"The Law and Human Rights Ministry will uphold the [presumption of innocence] until there is a legally binding court verdict on this case," Tubagus said, adding that the ministry was considering offering legal aid to Eddy.
Eddy, who was inaugurated as the deputy law minister in December 2020, is the latest minister in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's cabinet to be implicated in a corruption case.
The growing list includes former communications and information minister Johnny G. Plate: The NasDem Party politician was found guilty of graft and sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for accepting at least Rp 11.5 billion in kickbacks relating to inflated procurements in the government's 4G telephony project.