Former Indonesian minister jailed over Covid-19 graft
Juliari Batubara sentenced to 12 years in prison after receiving kickbacks for procurement of goods
Jakarta — Former Indonesian social affairs minister Juliari Batubara was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday over a multimillion dollar Covid-19 graft scandal.
A Jakarta Corruption Court judge said the former politician was found “convincingly guilty of corruption” after receiving 32.4-billion rupiah in kickbacks in relation to the procurement of goods intended for Covid-19 social assistance packages.
The politician, who the court found had intervened in the tender process, was also fined 500-million rupiah, and ordered to pay back 14.5-billion rupiah in embezzled funds used for personal expenses.
In the streamed ruling, the judges said Juliari would also be banned from public office for four years after serving his prison term.
Juliari had denied wrong doing. His lawyer Maqdir Ismail on Monday described the sentence, which was one year longer than investigators had demanded, as too harsh and said they are considering whether to appeal.
Indonesia’s antigraft commission (KPK) named Juliari as a suspect in the case in December 2020 with four others.
At the time, anticorruption investigators discovered more than $1m in cash stuffed into suitcases and other containers, a day before the former minister turned himself in.
President Joko Widodo was elected in 2014 on a pledge to fight graft, and some prominent politicians have been jailed for corruption during his administration, but there are concerns the antigraft agency’s clout has weakened.
According to the global watchdog Transparency International (TI), worsening graft saw Indonesia drop three points on its corruption perception index last year to rank 102 out of 180 countries.
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