Politician bags 12 years jail term for looting COVID-19 funds


On Monday, an Indonesian politician was sentenced to 12 years in prison for embezzling more than $1 million of COVID-19 aid funds when he was social affairs minister last year.

Juliari Batubara was guilty of accepting 14.6 billion rupiah ($1.16 million) in kickbacks from companies appointed to supply food aid packages to Indonesians affected by the pandemic, a Jakarta court said.

Mr Batubara, a former treasury official for the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, was ordered to return the embezzled funds or serve an additional sentence of two years.

He would be barred from holding political office for four years after completing his sentence.

The prosecutors explained that the ministry asked for a fee of 10,000 rupiah (less than $1) for every food pack in a COVID-19 aid programme worth 5.9 trillion rupiah.

Mr Batubara was the fourth member of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s cabinet jailed for corruption.

Last month, politician Edhy Prabowo was sentenced to five years for accepting 4.3 billion rupiah in return for awarding companies permits to export baby lobsters when he was fisheries minister last year.

The Corruption Eradication Commission said Mr Prabowo used bribe money to buy luxury items, including Rolex watches and Tumi and Louis Vuitton bags – in Hawaii while on a business trip.