Indonesian watchdog names parliamentarian as suspect in corruption case

Indonesian watchdog names parliamentarian as suspect in corruption case
The speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto waves as he arrives at Corruption Eradication Commision building (KPK) in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 14, 2017 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak via REUTERS
JAKARTA: Indonesia's anti-corruption agency is investigating a member of parliament for allegedly causing state losses of at least 2.3 trillion rupiah (£132 million) during the implementation of a national electronic identity card, it said on Monday.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) identified the politician only by the initials "SN", which local media took to be Setya Novanto, speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) and chairman of Indonesia's second-biggest political party, Golkar.

Novanto did not respond to requests for comment.
Nurul Arifin, a spokeswoman for Golkar, said: "We are still waiting for official notice from the KPK that it had placed our chairman, Mr. Setya Novanto, as a suspect."

"The Golkar party follows and respects the process of upholding the law, and we strongly hold on to the principle of the presumption of innocence," Arifin added.

KPK has been investigating allegations that sums ranging from $5,000 to $5.5 million - money generated by marking up the costs of the electronic identity card procurement - were divided up in a room in parliament.

In March, two public servants on trial for corruption linked to the case identified at least 37 people - including Novanto and members of President Joko Widodo's ruling party - who they said had benefited.

Novanto denied that, saying at the time: "The contents of the indictment that mentions my name and others is absolutely wrong and all parties must look at the facts from the trial and ... allow the judges to be independent and impartial."

KPK Chairman Agus Rahardjo said on Monday "SN" is suspected to have abused his authority to benefit himself or others.

The scale of the alleged theft in the case has created sensational headlines, even in a country used to corruption scandals.