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Corruption investigation targets high-ranking officials at Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture

The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is probing corruption allegations involving coercion and abuse of power within the Ministry of Agriculture.

Their recent search of Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s official residence has raised questions about potential political influences ahead of the 2024 General Elections.

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INDONESIA: The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is currently conducting an investigation into alleged corruption related to coercion and abuse of power within Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan).

While the case has progressed to the investigation stage, the KPK has refrained from disclosing the identities of the suspects.

However, it is customary for the KPK to officially announce the suspects’ names when the investigation is deemed sufficient, according to Ali Fikri, the KPK’s spokesperson.

Under this case, the suspects are charged under Article 12e of Law No. 31 of 2001 concerning the Eradication of Corruption Crimes (Tipikor).

This specific legal provision within the aforementioned statute delineates that “civil servants or state officials who, with the intention of benefiting themselves or others illegally, or by abusing their authority, force someone to provide something, pay, or receive payment with a deduction, or to perform an act for their own benefit.”

The KPK has openly conducted a search at the official residence of the Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, located in the ministerial housing complex on Widya Chandra V Street, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

The search, confirmed by the KPK spokesperson, is estimated to have lasted approximately 20 hours, beginning on Thursday (28 Sep), at 4:00 PM local time and concluding on Friday (29 Sep), at 12:11 PM local time.

A convoy of seven KPK vehicles was observed transporting two suitcases and bags from the premises before leaving.

The Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo. (Photo: KOMPAS.com)

Significant cash seized and firearms unearthed during Minister’s residence search

During the search, the KPK seized tens of billions of rupiah, as well as foreign currency, which Ali Fikri confirmed.

Additionally, they used a currency counting machine to accurately calculate the seized money. Alongside the cash, investigators secured transaction documents, asset purchases, and electronic evidence for further analysis.

Furthermore, the search of the Minister’s residence resulted in the discovery of firearms, which raised questions about their legality.

Ali Fikri clarified that the KPK had coordinated with the Jakarta Metropolitan Police regarding the firearms.

However, Ali refrained from providing more information about the legality of the firearms, emphasizing that the KPK’s focus is on items related to the alleged corruption within the Ministry of Agriculture.

In response to the discovery of the firearms, Firtian Judiswandarta, the Secretary-General of the Indonesian Hunting and Shooting Association (PB Perbakin), explained that Indonesian civilians can obtain firearm permits for sports and self-defense purposes but with restrictions on the types of firearms allowed.

Permitted firearms include handheld firearms like revolvers with calibers 32, 25, or 22, as well as shoulder firearms such as shotguns with calibers 12 mm, 12 GA, and 22. Ownership of other firearms is prohibited for civilians.

Separately, the Jakarta Metropolitan Police confirmed that they had received the transferred firearms from the KPK. A total of 12 firearms were reportedly seized from Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s residence.

The Jakarta Metropolitan Police, along with the Indonesian National Police Intelligence and Security Agency (Baintelkam), will further investigate the discovery of these firearms.

However, the National Police Headquarters has not yet commented on the coordination regarding the firearms found in the Minister’s residence.

After the search at Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s residence, the KPK also conducted a search at the Ministry of Agriculture’s office in Ragunan, South Jakarta, on Friday (29 Sep).

The search took place in Building A of the Ministry of Agriculture, starting at 10:30 AM local time. Journalists were not permitted to enter the building during the search, but Ministry employees continued their regular activities.

Ali Fikri confirmed that the search at the Ministry included the offices of Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and the Secretary-General of the Ministry, Kasdi Subagyono. However, the specific objects or items being sought by the investigative team in their offices were not disclosed.

The KPK conducted a search at the official residence of the Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo (SYL), on Thursday (28 Sep). (Photo: Liputan6.com)

Speculation of political influence in light of 2024 General Elections

Amidst these developments, allegations of political motivations behind the searches have arisen, particularly in connection with the 2024 General Elections.

Ali Fikri acknowledged that KPK’s actions could be politically charged given the proximity to the 2024 election season.

However, he emphasized that the investigation into Minister Yasin Limpo’s involvement in alleged corruption was purely a matter of law enforcement and followed a lengthy process that began with a public complaint, followed by an investigation and search.

Ali Fikri assured the public that the KPK would be accountable by providing evidence during the trial for the corruption case.

He stated, “We want to emphasize that we will disclose all the investigation processes conducted by the KPK when the time comes, including the evidence presented in court.”

The investigation is ongoing, with the KPK committed to ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the process, including the forthcoming trial for corruption charges in accordance with Indonesian law.

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