Indonesian tycoon Siti Hartati Cakra Murdaya Poo was named as a graft suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday over allegations that the wealthy associate of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono bribed a Central Sulawesi official to receive a land concession in the Buol district.
A prominent financier of Yudhoyono’s race, Hartati was charged in connection with the case on August 6, KPK chairman Abraham Samad said in a press conference on Wednesday. Hartati will not be jailed unless the ongoing investigation, or her actions, warrant her detention, he added.
“The detectives found enough evidence to connect the three suspects that have been named earlier with a new suspect,” Abraham said. “The new suspect is SHM.”
Hartati’s palm oil company, Hardaya Inti Plantation, reportedly paid Rp 2 billion ($212,000) in bribes to Buol’s district chief Amran Batalipu to acquire needed land concessions in the district.
KPK investigators busted Amran and two top Hardaya Inti Plantation staff members in a corruption sting on June 26.
Hardaya Inti Plantation manager Yani Anshori and operational director Gondo Sudjono were arrested in the operation.
Amran fled the scene after his security staff slammed their car into the KPK’s vehicle. He was caught on July 5.
Hartati was issued a travel ban after the corruption scandal broke.
But Hartati has declared her innocence. She claims that Amran asked her for the money, which she saw as a social donation.
Hartati’s lawyer Patra M. Zen had harsher words, alleging that Amran extorted his client, a practice he says is common in the palm oil industry.
Patra said that the company had struggled security problems since 1998 that require regular assistance from the National Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob). Amran reportedly asked Hartati for a donation to make the problems go away.
But Amran’s lawyer Amat said the money was meant as a donation to his re-election campaign. He said that Amran was not the only candidate for district head who received a donation from Hartati.
All candidates had received similar donations, Amat claimed.