Graft busters charge Indonesia's religious minister

Suryadharma Ali accused of siphoning hajj pilgrimage fund
Graft busters charge Indonesia's religious minister
Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has charged Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali in a graft case related to the mismanagement of a 2012 and 2013 hajj pilgrimage fund.

“[Suryadharma], as minister of religious affairs, allegedly committed acts which are against the law and abused his authority to enrich himself, another person, and corporate enrichment in relation to the management of the hajj pilgrimage fund,” Johan Budi SP, KPK spokesperson, said in a statement.

The amount of money siphoned off in 2012 and 2013 totaled about US$87 million, he added.

Suryadharma – who is also chairman of the Islamist United Development Party (PPP) – was charged under a  2001 corruption law, said Johan.

If convicted, he could face life imprisonment or at the very least, a minimum sentence of one year. Each count also comes with a maximum fine of one billion rupiah ($86,620).

“Of course, we are concerned about this,” said Johan. “This isn’t the first time.”

An official at the Religious Affairs Ministry was sentenced in April to eight years in prison for his role in a graft case related to Qu’ran procurement. Last year, two other officials were sentenced respectively to 15 and eight years in prison for their involvement in the same case.  

Ahmad Yani, an advisor to the PPP, said the party would thoroughly look into the graft case and provide legal aid to its chairman.   

“We hope that law enforcement officers will be fair,” he said. “I don’t know whether or not there is a political interest behind this case.”

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