Top party official a suspect in Indonesian graft probe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 3:22am


Indonesia's anti-graft body on Friday named the chairman of the ruling party as a suspect in connection with a multi-million-dollar corruption case, the latest scandal to hit the president's party ahead of 2014 elections.

"We have decided to name AU as a suspect," said the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman Johan Budi, referring to Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum.

We have decided to name AU as a suspect

The commission said it has sufficient evidence that Urbaningrum "received gifts or a promise of gifts" in relation to the corruption case linked to the construction of the Hambalang sports centre development project near Jakarta, worth 1.17 trillion rupiah (HK$935 million), in late 2010.

The suspect status of Anas is an embarrassment for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who won a landslide victory for a second term in 2009 on a corruption-fighting platform.

In December, the sports minister, Andi Mallarangeng, also a former presidential spokesman, resigned after being named a suspect in the same case.

He was the first minister to resign over graft allegations since the powerful KPK began operating in 2003 with a mandate to crack down on rampant graft.

The Hambalang sports centre was built after a tender process that has been publicly questioned. The case has been dogging Indonesia's politics and Democratic Party for years, ever since the KPK kicked off an investigation into the development of the sports complex in 2010.

Urbaningrum's suspect status came just weeks after Yudhoyono took over the party's leadership in a bid to salvage its reputation before the 2014 general and presidential elections.