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Indonesia's former agriculture minister named in corruption probe

JAKARTA: An Indonesian former government minister has been named as a suspect in a corruption probe and accused of pocketing more than US$800,000 of public money, a week after resigning from his post.

Syahrul Yasin Limpo, who until recently led the agriculture ministry, is the sixth minister investigated over corruption since President Joko Widodo took office in 2014.

Graft remains rampant in the massive archipelago nation, where politicians are widely seen as among the most corrupt.

Limpo regularly took “illegal levies from civil servants at the agricultural ministry to pay for his and his core family’s personal needs”, Johanis Tanak, deputy chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), told a press conference late on Wednesday (Oct 11).

The politician was accused of forcing ministry officials to send him money from the state coffers monthly, to a total of 13.9 billion rupiah (US$885,000), and used the cash to pay credit card bills and instalments on a luxury car.

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Two high-ranking officials have also been named and one of them, the ministry’s secretary general Kasdi Subagyono, has been detained.

Subagyono has also been accused of manipulating the job promotion process at the ministry.

Limpo, of the National Democratic Party, resigned from his post last week when the KPK announced it was looking into a corruption case involving him and his ministry.

He could face life in prison if found guilty.

Local media reported he was in his hometown of Makassar, South Sulawesi province, when he was named as a suspect and he landed back in Jakarta on Thursday morning.

“So far, we have not questioned him (Limpo) as a suspect and regarding the arrest, it is up to the investigators,” KPK spokesman Ali Fikri told AFP.

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