HomeMiddle EastIndonesian Communication Minister Arrested in Corruption Case

Indonesian Communication Minister Arrested in Corruption Case

The arrest of Johnny G Plate undermines the reputation of President Joko Widodo in the fight against corruption.

Indonesia’s information and communications technology minister has been arrested in a corruption case related to a telecommunications project that resulted in a loss of more than $500 million to the public treasury.

Johnny G Plate was detained on Wednesday after appearing for questioning at the attorney general’s office in the capital Jakarta, said Kuntadi, the prosecutor’s office director of investigation.

The footage showed Plate leaving the prosecutor’s office in handcuffs and wearing a pink detainee’s vest. She did not respond to questions from reporters.

If indicted, it could further tarnish President Joko Widodo’s credibility when it comes to fighting corruption. More recently, its Social Affairs and Fisheries ministers were jailed in 2021 on corruption charges.

The project was launched in late 2020 to manage more than 7,900 mobile coverage dark spots in Indonesia’s remote, underdeveloped and outermost areas of Papua, Sulawesi, Borneo, Sumatra and East Nusatenggara. Slated to be completed this year, according to the ministry’s data, only 4,200 locations have received the equipment so far.

The corruption case is believed to have cost the state 8 trillion rupees ($539 million), said Muhammad Yusuf Ateh, head of development finance control at the prosecutor’s office. He said the losses included fictitious payments for base stations that have not been built.

“Based on today’s investigation, we conclude that there has been sufficient evidence that he (Plate) was involved in a base transceiver station corruption case,” said AGO director of extraordinary crimes investigation Kuntadi, who, like many Indonesians, he only has one name.

Plate was detained along with five other suspects, including three from the private sector, after about 60 people were questioned about the acquisition process.

His arrest also sparked speculation about the fate of his NasDem party, which is part of the governing coalition with seven others. NasDem had previously endorsed a popular opposition politician, Anies Baswedan, as a 2024 presidential candidate. Widodo has referred to the party as an “outsider” in the coalition.

According to global corruption watchdog Transparency International, Indonesia dropped four points on its corruption perception index last year to 110 out of 180 countries.

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