December 21, 2023
JAKARTA – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday named North Maluku Governor Abdul Ghani Kasuba as a suspect for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for helping certain companies secure road construction projects in the province, a region that has witnessed rapid economic growth in recent years.
KPK investigators also named three officials from the provincial administration – Public Works Agency head Daud Ismail, Housing Agency head Adnan Hasanudin and Goods and Services Procurement Agency Ridwan Arsan — as suspects in the case, along with two other individuals from private companies. Abdul’s aide, Ramadhan Ibrahim, was also named as a suspect for collecting the bribe money.
The KPK suspects the governor of having accepted bribes from companies that won the tender for government projects to build roads and bridges. The projects are worth Rp 500 billion (US$32 million).
“Abdul, as North Maluku governor, decided which contractors won the tender for the construction projects,” KPK deputy chairman Alexander Marwata said in a press release on Wednesday.
Abdul allegedly ordered his subordinates to manipulate the progress reports of the projects as if they were half finished so the North Maluku regional budget could be disbursed.
The KPK has yet to disclose how much money the governor allegedly received but it suspects Rp 2.2 billion in bribes had flowed into the bank account of Abdul’s aide.
Abdul and six other suspects are now being detained at the KPK detention center for the next 20 days.
Abdul was nabbed in a hotel in Jakarta on Monday, while six other suspects were apprehended in two different places in Ternate, North Maluku, and Jakarta also on Monday.
During the operation, the KPK also confiscated Rp 725 million from the Rp 2.2 billion alleged bribes.
KPK spokesman Ali Fikri said on Tuesday that investigators had searched Abdul’s official residence in Ternate on Monday.
Investigators also suspected Abdul of accepting bribes from his subordinates in return for his support for their promotions.
North Maluku administration secretary Samsuddin Abdul Kadir assured that public services in the province continued to run normally despite the governor’s arrest, kompas.id reported.
North Maluku, which is among the country’s richest nickel deposits, has been the region with the most economic growth in recent years.
The province received praise from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo last year for this growth.
Citing the happiness index by Statistics Indonesia, Jokowi told the annual National Investment Meeting in Jakarta in November 2022 that: “people in North Maluku were the happiest. I’d say that is because [the province recorded] 27 percent economic growth”, kompas.com reported.
“I’d say that is because the governor works in silence,” Jokowi said at the time.
When asked by reporters for his comment regarding Abdul’s arrest, Jokowi said on the sidelines of an event on Tuesday in Bogor, West Java: “Let’s respect the ongoing investigation by the KPK”. (jan)