Indonesia’s social affairs minister has been arrested for taking bribes while organising food aid for people in need.
Juliari Batubara is accused of taking cash from contractors supplying food aid parcels to people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Anti-corruption agents discovered more than 14.5 billion rupiah (RM4 million) stuffed into suitcases and bags and arrested four suspects during a raid on Saturday. Agents said two of the suspects arrested were officials and the other two were civilians.
Juliari turned himself in on Sunday, according to the BBC.
“The money was in seven suitcases, three backpacks, and in envelopes,” Firli Bahuri, chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission, said in a news conference.
Agents said Juliari was allegedly offered thousands of rupiah in kickbacks per food parcel provided by two of the contractors, according to AFP news agency.
If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
President Joko Widodo said on Sunday that he has repeatedly warned ministers to avoid corruption and that he would not protect those who gave in to greed.
“That’s the people’s money. It’s aid urgently needed to help during Covid-19 and for the economic recovery,” he said.
Bahuri said, “We will not stop here. We will closely watch how the government’s social assistance is being procured and channelled during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Batubara is the second cabinet member arrested for corruption in less than two weeks, reports the South China Morning Post.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo, who has since resigned, was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes in connection with exports of lobster larvae, and allegedly used the money for a luxury shopping spree in the US.
Indonesia has been hit hard by the pandemic. The government has rolled out aid programmes such as food packages to help those in need.
Authorities in the country have predicted that 3.5 million people could lose their jobs due to the coronavirus downturn. Last month, the country fell into its first recession in 22 years.