Muhammad Firmansyah Arifin, president director of shipbuilder PAL Indonesia, emerged from the headquarters of the national antigraft agency in South Jakarta at 11.23 p.m. on Friday (31/03) following 15 hours of questioning.
Wearing the infamous orange vest Indonesians have come to associate with corruption suspects, Firmansyah was bombarded with questions from journalists, who had been waiting since the morning.
However, the chief of the Surabaya, East Java-based state-owned company remained tight-lipped and tried to cover his face to prevent news photographers from getting a clear shot of him before jumping into a vehicle belonging to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
The KPK also detained PAL Indonesia treasury general manager Arif Cahyana and finance director Saiful Anwa for graft related to the sale of strategic sealift vessels, or SSVs, to the Philippine Navy.
Firmansyah is detained at the KPK compound, while Arif is held in the antigraft body’s facility at the Jakarta Military Police’s detention center in Manggarai, South Jakarta.
Agus Nugroho, an executive employed by Manila-based Ashanti Sales, is detained at the offices of the East Jakarta Police following his arrest for his alleged role as facilitator of the illicit transaction.
PAL Indonesia started exporting the SSVs, or Tarlac class landing platform docks, to Manila in May last year, but the second order, which was scheduled to be delivered next month, has been plagued with corruption, the KPK alleges.
The KPK says the accused received $25,000 in kickbacks from Ashanti through Agus as part of the total $1.08 million in commitment fees.
The procurement project, estimated to be worth nearly $87 million, was sealed by PAL Indonesia in 2014 with help from Ashanti.
KPK deputy chairwoman Basaria Panjaitan explained that the agency launched a sting operation after learning that money was going change hands between Agus and Arif at the offices of Ashanti Sales in Cawang, East Jakarta, on Thursday.
Investigators allegedly found three envelopes containing a total of $25,000 in cash in Arif’s possession when they arrested him in the parking lot of the MTH Square office building. They then proceeded to arrest Agus, along with eight staff members, at the offices of Ashanti Sales.
In a separate operation, a special KPK team also moved quickly to detain PAL Indonesia president director Firmansyah and six staff members in Surabaya at 10.00 p.m.
The KPK eventually named four suspects among the 17 people it brought in for questioning.
“This is the first KPK sting operation in the shipping industry. The KPK is very concerned because the shipping industry has been the nation’s pride, but now is plagued by the misconduct of officials at PAL,” Basaria said.
She added that Indonesia’s ability to produce SSVs is acknowledged outside the country, but that the graft case has damaged the country’s reputation.