Cleaning Up Meikarta

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The indictment of Lippo Cikarang brought a breath of fresh air to the Meikarta graft case. The subsidiary of Lippo Group was charged with bribing the Bekasi provincial officials for the issuance of permits for the mega project. The move by the anti-corruption agency’s prosecutor should be supported as we must fight bribes of any kind from corporations to public officials.

    In the indictment of Billy Sindoro, Lippo Group’s operational director, the company, in addition to its employees and two company consultants, was also charged for its involvement in the crime. Lippo Cikarang through Mahkota Sentosa Utama was accused of bribing Bekasi regent Neneng Hasanah Yasin and her subordinates. It has splashed out Rp16.18 billion and S$270,000 to grease the wheels for the project. The indictment read at the Bandung Corruption Court is the key to unravel corporate corruption.

    The systematic bribe giving indicates that the crime no longer involves individuals. In addition to regent Neneng, Billy and his staff are alleged to have bribed 20 Bekasi regional people’s representative council (DPRD) members for their endorsement of the revision of the detailed spatial plan for Cikarang. Without the revision, the Rp358 trillion Meikarta project could not have been launched.

    Oddly enough, not long after the revision was approved by the DPRD, the land use permit from the Bekasi regent also came out. Lippo Cikarang now has its hand the permit to build apartments, offices, shopping malls and hotels on the 84.6-hectare land. According to the regulation, the land use permit should have been issued only after the revised detailed spatial plan is approved by the West Java provincial government.

    Even though the DPRD members have already returned the Rp180 million to the anti-graft agency, their roles still must be probed as the money was a substitute for the gratification they received from Meikarta for vacation in Thailand at a cost of Rp30-50 million per person.

    The Meikarta developer did not stop at doling out payoff s to public officials and DPRD members only. It is also alleged to have lobbied Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo as indicated by Neneng’s testimony during her trial. She claimed to have received a call from Tjahjo, who allegedly asked her to help with the permit. KPK investigators must look deeper to determine Tjahjo’s role.

    Officials and politicians have for long made project permits as money spinner to amass wealth illegally. Those involved in Meikarta should be given severe punishment next to the criminal revocation of political rights as an additional sanction. The company must also be given heavy sanctions as already done in several other graft cases.

    The anti-corruption law already includes corporate corruption. The Supreme Court also has provisions on proving one’s guilt. According to its Law No. 13/2016, a company can be indicted on the anti-corruption clause if it receives profits, allows and does not prevent a criminal act.

    The smooth permit issuing process clearly benefits Lippo Cikarang. It should not be too difficult for the KPK to prove that the company executives have allowed the bribe to change hands. It is necessary to stomp out corporate corruption not only to severe the sources of illicit income for public officials and politicians but also to rid the business world of dirty practices.

    Read the complete story in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine