SOUTH TANGERANG, BANTEN - The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has launched an investigation into alleged corruption in the administration of South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmi Diani, the sister in-law of the controversial Banten Governor, Ratu Atut Chosiyah.
The KPK made the move amid allegations that Atut and her family members - who lead several regencies and districts in the province - have indulged in systematic corruption to maintain the clan’s political power.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi said on Tuesday that the agency had launched a probe into alleged irregularities surrounding the procurement of medical equipment in South Tangerang, Banten, from 2010 until 2012. The agency’s investigators questioned officials at the South Tangerang Health Agency in relation to the KPK’s investigation, he said.
Airin Rachmi Diany, mayor of South Tangerang in Banten province. She also belongs to the Banten Dynasty, and is now under investigation
Johan made it clear that the ongoing investigation had nothing to do with the bribery scandal implicating Airin’s husband, Tubagus Chaeri “Wawan” Wardana, who was arrested earlier this month for the alleged bribery of the former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar in the Lebak election dispute case.
“This is a new investigation. It has nothing to do with that case [the bribery of Akil],” Johan said, adding that the probe was still in its early stages and therefore he could not disclose details of the case.
The family’s political dynasty has gained notoriety following the arrest of Wawan, with the media highlighting the family’s web of power in the province and allegations of malfeasance.
The probe into graft in Airin’s administration is the first move by the KPK to scrutinize the family since detaining Wawan and issuing a travel ban on Atut for their roles in the Akil case.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) political corruption researcher Ade Irawan said the new probe could be a stepping stone for the antigraft body to expand its investigation into other projects involving Atut’s political dynasty.
Wawan, regarded as the most influential person managing development projects funded from the regional budgets of Banten and South Tangerang, was likely involved in the case, Ade said.
Airin was also very likely to be dragged into the case as the policy maker in the region, he added. “Even if Airin was not active [in handling the development projects, including the medical equipment procurement], the policy-making power is in her [hands],” he said.
Previously, the ICW claimed that according to its investigation, companies that were allegedly owned or indirectly controlled by Atut’s family had won 175 goods and service procurement projects worth Rp 1.14 trillion (US$106 million), from the Banten administration and the Public Works Ministry between 2008 and 2013. Ade said that the ICW found budget markups in the medical equipment procurement in the region as well as other irregularities related to the health sector.
According to Ade, the construction projects of some hospitals in South Tangerang and Banten were plagued by problems as they were monopolized by Wawan’s companies.
The tender for the Pandeglang Regional Hospital in Banten was won by PT Marbago Duta Persada, whose director Umar Said was a member of Wawan’s circle, said Workers Union Public Transparency (MATA) Banten director Fuadudin Bagas.
The Cilegon Regional Hospital was built by PT Buana Wardhana Utama, whose director Yayah Rodiyah was also said to be a close confidante of Wawan, Fuadudin added. Yayah has been banned from travelling overseas by the KPK. None of Wawan’s firms have expertise in the procurement of medical equipment, despite several of them winning tenders for health-related projects, according to Fuadudin.