Indonesia politicians caught up in $170 million graft case

AP News
Posted: Mar 10, 2017 12:17 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian politicians with key roles in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's governing coalition have been caught up in a corruption scandal in which officials allegedly pilfered more than $170 million of government money.

The justice minister, a former interior minister, the current speaker of parliament and provincial governors are among those named in an indictment presented to a special corruption court on Thursday at the start of a trial of two Interior Ministry officials.

The case could turn into a test of Jokowi's ability to take a hard line against corruption, which is at epidemic levels in Indonesia and holds back development of the nation of more than 250 million people.

Indonesia's anti-corruption police allege that a network of about 80 conspirators and several companies used the introduction of a $440 million electronic identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the funds.

Local media reported that parliament's speaker and the justice minister denied involvement.

Irman and Sugiharto, the two officials currently on trial, are charged with receiving $4.4 million. Prosecutors say the rest of the stolen $172 million was distributed among the dozens of other people involved.

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The justice minister and parliament's speaker are from political parties that have thrown their support behind Jokowi's government, which initially did not command a parliamentary majority following the election of the maverick candidate in 2014.

Transparency International in 2016 gave Indonesia a corruption score of 37 on a 1 to 100 scale, where 100 is completely free of corruption. Out of the 176 countries ranked, Indonesia was 90th, far from its goal of reaching 50th place by 2016.