Indonesia’s anticorruption chief Firli Bahri faces extortion charges

Firli Bahri is suspected of extorting money from the agriculture ministry between 2020 and 2023.

The probe into Firli Bahri is linked to a case against Indonesian agriculture minister [File: M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto via Reuters]

The head of Indonesia’s anticorruption commission is being investigated for extorting money from the agriculture ministry, according to the country’s police.

Ade Safri Simanjuntak, Jakarta police’s director for special crime, said on Wednesday that there was “sufficient evidence to name” Firli Bahri, the chairman of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), “as a suspect” in the corruption case.

Simanjuntak said that a state official extorted money at the ministry from 2020 to 2023, and that Indonesian authorities had confiscated transaction documents of $477,730 from raids at two locations.

The investigation into Bahri is linked to a case against Indonesian Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo, who was arrested last month after allegations he pocketed more than $800,000 in public funds.

Bahri – a former police chief in South Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara provinces who became KPK chief in 2019 – has repeatedly denied any involvement in extortion or bribery.

So far, he has not been arrested, and police did not say if they intended to detain him. If convicted of bribery charges, he could face life in prison.

According to the law, the president must temporarily suspend any KPK chief named as a criminal suspect. President Joko Widodo said on Thursday he would “respect the process of law” when asked about the accusations against Firli.

Still, the anticorruption body’s deputy commissioner insisted that the allegations had not affected the agency’s work.

“The KPK leadership … remains solid and committed to ensure the KPK will continue carrying out its duties as mandated by the KPK law,” Alexander Marwata said on Thursday.

Corruption remains rampant in Indonesia, which ranked 110th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s latest corruption perception index.

Indonesia has arrested scores of public officials for graft in recent years.

In 2021, a former social affairs minister was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of taking $1.2m in bribes linked to food aid for poor families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: News Agencies