Indonesian politician arrested for graft says she thought money from private sector was ‘halal’

Indonesian House of Parliament (DPR) member Eni Saragih. Photo: Instagram
Indonesian House of Parliament (DPR) member Eni Saragih. Photo: Instagram

Here’s some legal advice we never thought we’d have to give: all corruption, whether the money comes from the public or private sector, is illegal.

On Friday, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Eni Saragih, deputy head of the Energy Committee in the House of Parliament (DPR). She was accused of receiving an IDR500 million (US$34,746) bribe for a thermal power plant project by private firm Apac Group, the first of several installments of bribes that would’ve amounted to IDR4.8 billion (US$333,565).

While in the KPK’s custody, Eni wrote a letter to her family proclaiming her innocence, which was passed on to Indonesian news outlet Tempo. In the letter, Eni claims she did not know that her actions were illegal because the bribe money came from the private sector.

“[The project’s] importance to the state is paramount, the people will be able to receive cheap power,” Eni wrote in the letter, as picked up exclusively by Tempo yesterday.

“So if there’s fortune that I gain from the process it becomes halal and I had intended [for the money] to be given to those who deserve it more,” she said, “halal” referring to what is permissible in Islam (and no, receiving a bribe is not permissible in Islam).

Though we’ll probably never know her true intentions, Eni said, in a slightly Robin Hood-esque way, the bribe money was going to be used to pay for events for “the people” as well as for her “private needs”.

Eni has been charged with bribery under the KUHP (Criminal Code), which is punishable by four to 20 years in prison. Apac Group boss Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo, who was also arrested and suspected of giving Eni the bribe, was charged with bribing a government official, a crime punishable by one to five years in prison.

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