Tue, 24 Jun 2003

Police name PDI-P faction chairman graft suspect

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Police have named the chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction at the East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Legislative Council a suspect in a Rp 15 billion (US$1.8 million) corruption case.

Karel Yani Mbuik was declared one of eight suspects following testimony from several witnesses that alleged he had played a decisive role in helping Jakarta-based PT Antares win a Rp 15 billion tender to supply medical equipment to the province, Kupang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Victor Simanjuntak said.

The witnesses included Max Taopan, chairman of the tender selection committee, Beni Tulung, chairman of the project, and a member of the tender selection committee identified only as NS.

"The witnesses admitted that they had been pressured by (Karel) to award PT Antares the tender," Victor said, as quoted by the Antara news agency.

He said the police had also named East Nusa Tenggara health agency chairman Steve Bria Seran a suspect.

Steve cooperated with Karel, in order to allow the company to win the tender, Victor said.

The police chief said Max had failed to apply transparency and fairness to the selection process as suspect Karel had been persistently outspoken in the interests of Max.

Karel did not only push the committee members to throw weight behind the company, but also pushed the company to transfer money to an account of his accomplice in Kupang, he added.

Victor hinted that the irregularity had actually occurred in November 2002, when the committee named PT Antares the winner of the tender, or one month before the committee issued the estimated price of the medical equipment.

In common practice, the committee should first set the price before announcing the participants of the tender.

"From the beginning, the selection process was engineered so that PT Antares would win the tender," Victor said.

Having won, PT Antares is required to provide medical equipment to 56 local community health centers (Puskesmas) in the province.

The funds were allocated for the purchase of, among other things, equipment for the family planning program totaling Rp 1.052 billion, surgery equipment totaling Rp 5.772 billion, community health center equipment worth Rp 3.425 billion and laboratory equipment worth Rp 3.207 billion.

Victor also revealed that the lawyers for both Karel and Steve had sent letters to Kupang Police, requesting their clients not be placed in detention during the investigation.

However, Victor said he would not approve the requests to prevent them from tampering with the case while they remained free.

"The suspects should stay behind bars .... Moreover, they have apparently been dishonest with police investigators," he said.