7 December 2020
Anti-corruption (KPK) officials have arrested social affairs minister, Juliari Batubara, for allegedly receiving US$ 1.2 million kickbacks from two contractors tasked with distributing $420m worth of goods to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. His arrest followed a sting operation conducted by KPK officers. After the operation, two private contractors and two officials from the Social Affairs Ministry were arrested and millions of dollars in cash of three different currencies were confiscated. The KPK suspected that the money was meant for Mr Batubara.
Minister had awarded the contract to two companies to distribute cash and basic necessities to 10 million families affected by the pandemic. Indonesia has the highest number of corona virus cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia, with more than 530,000 infections and 16,000 deaths.
KPK chairman said that they are considering charging Mr Batubara under article two of the 1999 law number 31, which states that a death penalty could be imposed on officials who try to profit themselves by causing losses to the state coffers during a state of emergency.
Batubara is the second cabinet member arrested for corruption in less than two weeks. Earlier Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo, was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes in connection with exports of lobster larvae and allegedly used the money for a trip to the United States and for buying luxury goods there.
President Joko Widodo said on Sunday that he had repeatedly warned ministers to avoid corruption and that he would not protect those who did.
Channel News Asia reported.