APSN Banner

Ex-minister misuses gov't funds for sacrificial cows and pricey painting

Jakarta Globe - May 8, 2024

Ricki Putra Harahap, Jakarta – A court revealed that the former Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo (SYL) utilized the government's budget to cover the expenses of his qurban, a sacrificial act of worship and charity in Islam. Syahrul also used the ministry's budget to buy a Rp 200 million ($12,460) painting.

Hermanto, the Secretary of the Directorate General of Agricultural Infrastructure and Facilities at the Ministry, said the ministry paid for 12 cows for Syahrul's sacrificial act amounting to Rp 360 million ($22,400).

"We provided the money as requested, and the amount is approximately equivalent to the cost of 12 cows," Hermanto stated in the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday.

Furthermore, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutor, Meyer Simanjuntak, confirmed the value of the sacrificial cows' payment, amounting to Rp 360 million, to Hermanto. The prosecutor then inquired about the request for this cow payment.

Hermanto admitted that he did not know whether these cows were actually purchased or not.

"We don't know whether they were bought or not, or where they were intended to be sacrificed as qurban, we don't know," Hermanto said.

Hermanto also disclosed a demand for Rp 12 billion from an auditor at the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) for the ministry to obtain an unqualified audit opinion (WTP) on its budget report. This opinion indicates that the financial statements are reliable and can be used to make informed decisions.

He explained that the BPK found deficiencies in administrative document completeness. The Ministry was given the opportunity to rectify this.

KPK prosecutors then probed whether there was a request from BPK regarding the provision of an opinion. Hermanto testified about the request for money from BPK.

"At that time, it was conveyed to Syahrul that, if I'm not mistaken, they asked for Rp 12 billion for the Ministry," Hermanto responded.

Raden Kiky Mulya Putra, the Head of the Household Affairs Subdivision at the Ministry, confirmed that the ministry covered the cost of a painting by the renowned artist Sujiwo Tejo, which was purchased by Syahrul.

According to Raden, he received instructions from Arif Sofyan, the head of the household affairs section, and Zulkifili, the Acting Head of the Legal Bureau. The transaction, totaling Rp 200 million, took place in August 2022.

Raden disclosed that they did not have the funds available at the time to make the payment. Consequently, he sought assistance from Nasir, a vendor in the Ministry's general bureau.

"I asked for help from Mr. Nasir, a vendor at the Ministry's general bureau. Mr. Nasir transferred Rp 130 million to me, and I supplemented it with Rp 70 million in cash. The total amount of Rp 200 million was then transferred directly to Sujiwo Tejo," Raden explained.

Syahrul was apprehended by the KPK last October on charges of extortion and corruption after ignoring two summons for interrogation.

On April 29, witnesses in Syahrul's corruption trial testified that he had instructed his subordinates to obtain funds for his family while he was in office.

Syahrul allegedly used these funds to pay for car installments for his son, purchase perfumes for his wife, and cover other personal expenses, according to the witnesses, who are former subordinates of his.

Two other ministry officials have been named suspects in the case, including Secretary-General Kasdi Subagyono and Director of Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Muhammad Hatta.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/exminister-misuses-govt-funds-for-sacrificial-cows-and-pricey-paintin