Democratic Party legislator Sutan Bathoegana has challenged investigators to question him in the same room with a high-profile corruption suspect who accused him of soliciting bribes.
Sutan said on Thursday that he was ready to face down the allegation that he demanded the money, under the guise of an Idul Fitri holiday bonus, or THR, from Rudi Rubiandini, the former head of SKKMigas, the country’s upstream oil and gas regulator, who is in the custody of the Corruption Eradication Commission.
“I am ready to confront anyone, including Rudi Rubiandini,” Sutan said.
He added that he was still trying to get in touch with fellow Democratic Party legislator Tri Yulianto, who reportedly claimed to represent Sutan in demanding the money from Rudi.
Rudi testified at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Thursday that Tri, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission VII, which oversees energy affairs, had asked him several times for THR ahead of the holiday.
Tri claimed he intended to distribute the money to other members of the oversight commission, including Sutan, Rudi said in his testimony.
Rudi said he asked Deviardi, another suspect in the case, to put up the funds.
“It’s true that the $300,000 was from Deviardi because I thought Deviardi would seek ways to raise it. I finally submitted $200,000 to House Commission VII, while the remaining $100,000 I kept in savings,” Rudi told the court at the trial of Simon Gunawan Tanjaya, an official from Kernel Oil Indonesia, an oil trading firm.
Rudi said the $200,000 was given to Tri, who claimed to represent Sutan, the House Commission VII chairman.
Sutan denied asking for the THR, saying similar accusations had been leveled against him before and turned out to be false.
“I have already said that it didn’t happen,” he said.
He added he was unaware that Tri was using his name when soliciting the bribes.
“Why don’t you ask the person in question?” he said.
Tri, who was summoned by the KPK for questioning as a witness on Wednesday, failed to show up.
In a press release on Thursday, Tri claimed he was being treated at a Jakarta hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor on Monday.
“I did not skip the KPK’s summons. I have already sent the KPK a letter, including a doctor’s explanation that I am being treated in the hospital until the doctor decides that I can go home,” he said.
Tri added that on Wednesday night he received a second summons from KPK, scheduled for today.
“As a law-abiding citizen, I am willing to be questioned by the KPK, even at the hospital. But based on the doctor’s recommendation, I am still undergoing intensive care,” he said.
Rudi was arrested in August for allegedly receiving a $400,000 bribe from Simon and Deviardi, reportedly meant to curry favor with the regulator.
SKKMigas does not have the authority to award oil and gas contracts. The nation’s oil tenders fall under the authority of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
In the course of the investigation, the KPK seized $200,000 in cash from the office of Waryono Karno, the ministry’s secretary general.
Neither Waryono nor Tri have been charged in the case.
Meanwhile, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the government’s anti-money-laundering watchdog, reported that it did not track any funds going to legislators in connection with the SKKMigas case.
“If there were any [kickbacks], they would likely have been in the form of cash,” PPATK chairman M. Yusuf said on Thursday.