Ex-Indonesian Speaker Setya jailed 15 years for corruption

Setya Novanto in court in Jakarta yesterday. In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where he held meetings to divvy up cash from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.
Setya Novanto in court in Jakarta yesterday. In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where he held meetings to divvy up cash from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He is fined $47k and has to repay money he plundered in national electronic identity card case

JAKARTA • An Indonesian court yesterday jailed a former Speaker of Parliament for 15 years for his role in causing state losses of around US$170 million (S$224.8 million) linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.

The case has shocked Indonesians already used to large corruption scandals, and reinforced a widely held perception that Parliament, long regarded as riddled with corruption, is a failing institution.

Setya Novanto was Speaker from 2014 to 2015 and again from 2016 to 2017.

"The defendant is found guilty of conspiring to commit corruption and is sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 500 million rupiah (S$47,600)," Mr Yanto, the head of a panel of five judges, told the court.

Setya would be barred from holding public office for five years after serving his sentence and has to repay the US$7.3 million he had plundered, added the judge, who goes by one name.

In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where the former Speaker held meetings to divvy up cash made from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.

Setya showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict. After a quick consultation with his legal team, he told the Jakarta court he would take time to consider whether to appeal against the sentence.

Setya was accused of orchestrating a scheme to steal US$173 million, or almost 40 per cent of the entire budget for a government contract for the national identity card.

Prosecutors, who had questioned 80 witnesses in the case, had sought a jail term of at least 16 years.

The Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian initials KPK, has remained one of South-east Asia's most effective and independent agencies, despite repeated efforts to undermine it.

The KPK has jailed ministers, governors, judges and other high-ranking officials and Members of Parliament. "This is a warning to anybody not to act against the law," Vice-President Jusuf Kalla told Metro TV when he was asked to comment on the verdict.

Setya had been implicated in five graft scandals since the 1990s but never convicted. He was detained by KPK investigators last November after repeatedly missing summonses for questioning over the case, saying he needed heart surgery.

He gained a measure of international fame in September 2015 when Mr Donald Trump, then US presidential candidate, hailed him as a "great man" at a news conference in New York.

Even with successes in the fight against corruption, Indonesians have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives.

The country placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International's annual corruption perceptions index last year, on a par with Colombia and Thailand.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-Indonesian Speaker Setya jailed 15 years for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe