Ministry Officials Held Over Student Fair Corruption

Jakarta Globe, Nurfika Osman | April 15, 2011

Four Education Ministry officials have been arrested on suspicion of embezzling Rp 2 billion ($230,000) from funds allocated for a student fair, authorities said on Friday.

Those arrested were Joko Santoso, the ministry’s director for vocational schools, and three of his subordinates, Susilowati, Suko Wiyanto and Al Azhar.

Noor Rachmad, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the four were arrested on Thursday. “We detained them because they posed a flight risk,” he said.

The case stems from an exhibition and contest held for vocational schools at the Jakarta Fairground in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, in 2009.

The event was given a budget of Rp 13.84 billion by the Education Ministry, with Joko in charge of Rp 6.34 billion and the remainder tendered out to the private sector.

Joko is alleged to have ordered his staff to siphon off at least Rp 1.498 billion and doctor the financial report to cover up the missing money.

“Based on a report by our investigators, losses to the state could reach as high as Rp 2 billion,” Noor said.

A final figure would be known, he said, once the State Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) completed its audit.

National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh said he was aware of the case and would leave it up to the AGO to investigate.

“All we can do is provide the suspects with [legal] assistance because they’re still members of our staff,” he said. “We’ve also appointed a new acting director of vocational schools.”

Nuh added the ministry would not fire the four officials until they had been formally charged and brought to trial. He declined to say whether other officials were likely to be named suspects in the case.

Additional reporting from Berita Satu

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