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HomeasiaUS$540 million in losses: Former Indonesian minister jailed in telecoms graft case

US$540 million in losses: Former Indonesian minister jailed in telecoms graft case

A former Indonesian communications minister was jailed for 15 years on Wednesday (Nov 8) after being found guilty of corruption in a case that cost the country more than US$500 million in losses.

Indonesia’s anti-corruption court found former communication and information technology minister Johnny Gerard Plate guilty of using his position to enrich himself from a telecommunications project.

“The defendant has been found legally and convincingly guilty of committing corruption along with other people and (the court) is sentencing the defendant to 15 years in prison,” presiding judge Fahzal Hendri told the court.

The court also ordered the 67-year-old to pay a fine of 1 billion Indonesian rupiah (US$63,750) or serve six additional months in prison.

He was also ordered to pay 15.5 billion rupiah in restitution or have his assets seized by the court.

Plate was arrested in May over his involvement in a base transceiver stations (BTS) project, aimed at providing 4G internet access to remote areas across the archipelago, that was led by an agency under the communication ministry.

The Attorney General’s Office has said that malfeasance in the project resulted in overall losses of 8.03 trillion rupiah (US$540 million).

The court found Plate guilty of pocketing 10 billion rupiah (US$638,500) from the project.

The AGO reported that it had found irregularities in the procurement process involving local and foreign companies and named five other suspects, including an executive of a subsidiary of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Indonesia has arrested scores of public officials for graft in recent years.

In 2021, a former social affairs minister was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of taking US$1.2 million in bribes linked to food aid for poor families hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

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