Sunday, June 24, 2007

AGO, KPK join hands in Pertamina graft probe

Thursday, June 07, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After three years of preliminary investigation, the Attorney General's Office and Corruption Eradication Commission will jointly investigate the controversial 2004 sales of two tankers owned by state oil and gas company PT Pertamina.

The initial investigation was handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), while the AGO became involved after a House of Representatives special committee recommended in February this year that it also take part in the case.

Kemas Yahya Rahman, secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, said Wednesday the AGO was prepared to launch an advanced investigation into the alleged irregularities surrounding the sales of the two tankers.

"In a meeting with the KPK yesterday (Tuesday), KPK chairman Taufiequrrahman Ruki agreed to pass all the evidence they obtained as soon as they receive the AGO's instructions from us," Kemas Yahya said.

M. Salim, the AGO's investigation director, confirmed that the office had enough evidence to warrant further investigation into the matter.

A spokesman for KPK, Johan Budi S.P., said all law enforcement institutions, including the AGO, were obliged to push KPK to conduct advanced investigations into cases it has previously handled.

"The AGO will not take over the case from KPK, as reported in several media outlets. It is only upgrading the level of the investigation and the KPK will fully support it with evidence," Johan told The Jakarta Post.

In 2004, Pertamina sold two tankers to tender-winner Bermuda-based Frontline Shipping Ltd. for US$184 million. The sales were approved by then state minister for state enterprises Laksamana Sukardi, who was also president of Pertamina's board of commissioners at the time.

The investigation team looking into the sales, which allegedly caused Rp 2 trillion (US$227 million) in losses to the state, will be led by Slamet Wahyudi.

"It is likely that those who have previously been questioned in relation to the case will be questioned again. The previous questioning was part of a preliminary investigation, while the next questioning will be for deeper investigation," Salim said.

The KPK began its investigate into the alleged graft case in 2004 but found no initial indications that the tanker sales had inflicted losses to the state.

Laksamana's lawyer Petrus Selestinus said earlier that an overlap in legal proceedings is evident as the case is being handled by two institutions. (02)

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