Anti-Corruption Drive Targets Supreme Court

JAKARTA ~ The Supreme Court has come under the spotlight of an aggressive anti-corruption drive that has already shamed the attorney general’s and customs offices, officials said this week.

Investigators from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) have confiscated documents from the court in search of evidence of embezzlement of administrative fees, commission officials said.

“We went to the Supreme Court on Monday to gather documents linked to the case, and we’re investigating those papers to find evidence that will enable us to bring the case to court,” commission spokesman Johan Budi said on Wednesday.

“Our preliminary suspicion, based on information from the BPK (Supreme Audit Agency), is that there are some alleged irregularities related to the Supreme Court’s administration fees.”

The probe is the latest in a string of high-profile cases launched by the powerful anti-corruption commission, which was established after the fall of the corrupt Suharto regime in the late 1990s.

One investigation has found an alleged web of bribes and influence-peddling in the heart of the Attorney General’s Office, while another resulted in the seizure of thousands of dollars in bribe money at a customs office last month.

Indonesia is one of the world’s most corrupt countries and ranks 143rd on Transparency International’s global corruption perceptions index, level with Russia, Togo and Gambia.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed to use “shock therapy” to break the hold of corruption on all levels of the country’s bureaucracy as a major focus for his government ahead of elections next year.

So far the anti-vice drive has had only patchy success but a new KPK team headed by former criminal investigator Antasari Azhar, who took over the job in December, has provided fresh impetus.

The recent allegations against top institutions in the country’s judicial and law enforcement branches have shocked even the most cynical Indonesians and led to mounting calls for Attorney General Hendarman Supandji to resign.

Supandji has denied any involvement in the scandal that has rocked his office after one of his top investigators was arrested for allegedly taking a US$660,000 bribe from a businesswoman.

Several top prosecutors have been implicated in the allegations, which have been backed by secretly taped conversations released by the KPK at the businesswoman’s ongoing trial.

Forced to act, the attorney general has launched an internal investigation into at least 11 prosecutors but he says he still has Yudhoyono’s full confidence.

Taped phone transcripts played at the trial of businesswoman Artalyta Suryani, accused of bribing prosecutors to drop an embezzlement case into banking tycoon Sjamsul Nursalim, have made headlines for weeks.

In one of the calls, prosecutor Urip Tri Gunawan, who allegedly accepted $660,000 to end the investigation into Nursalim, is heard asking for a “bonus.”

“What I said the other day, is it done?” he says.

“Last time I said six,” Artalyta replies.

“There’s no bonus?” asks Gunawan.

“Yes, yes, later,” says the businesswoman.

Gunawan was arrested by KPK officials in March as he left Nursalim’s home in Jakarta with the cash, only days after the attorney general’s office dropped its 10-year investigation into the banker citing a lack of evidence.

Nursalim is accused of embezzling $3.4 billion in state funds used to bail out his bank during the Asian financial crisis in 1998. He is believed to be living in Singapore.

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