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Corruption watchdog searches office of anti-trust body

 
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September 20, 2008

Indonesia: Corruption watchdog searches office of anti-trust body
Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has searched the home and office of competition watchdog commissioner Muhammad Iqbal, who is currently being detained for allegedly receiving a 500 million rupiah ($53,000) bribe from former First

Media president director Billy Sindoro, reported local daily the Jakarta Post.

A search was also conducted of Billy's office. Billy is also in detention.

KPK investigators arrested Iqbal and Billy late Tuesday at a Central Jakarta hotel in possession of 500 million rupiah. The money was allegedly a payment related to the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) ruling on accusations of monopoly over broadcast rights for the English Premier League soccer. PT Direct Vision, a subsidiary of the Lippo Group's First Media and the operator of Astro TV, was involved in the case.

The monopoly case dates back to September 2007 when three cable television providers -- PT MNC Sky Vision (Indovision), PT Indosat Mega Media (IM2) and PT Indonusa Telemedia (Telkomvision) -- reported Astro All Asia Networks Plc. (Astro) to the KPPU for its monopoly over the English league, accusing the company of having received broadcast rights from ESPN Star Sport (ESS) without tender.

In August 2008, KPPU declared All Asia Multimedia Networks FZ-LLC (AAMN), a subsidiary of Astro and ESS, guilty of violating the 1999 anti-monopoly law.

However, the agency ordered the company to continue providing all services to subscribers in a partnership with PT Direct Vision until they settle their ownership dispute in a court.

Iqbal's lawyer Imron Halimy said his client had not been aware there was money in the bag he received. "He was only told it was a present and he didn't check," he said, as quoted by Reuters.

He said that "the KPPU is convinced that there's no relationship" between the money and the commission's decision, and that the commission would cooperate fully with the investigation.

As part of the investigation, the KPK sent three teams to search places connected to the two detainees. The teams searched the KPPU building in Central Jakarta, Iqbal's house in Pamulang, Tangerang, and Billy's current office (Lippo E-Net) in Karawaci, also in Tangerang.

"We had warrants to search those places. The aim of the search was to uncover any related evidence," KPK deputy chairman M. Jasin said.

Lippo E-Net spokesman S.S. Wibowo said the KPK did not confiscate any documents from Billy's office. "The KPK officials searched his office only," Wibowo said, as quoted by Antara.

The KPK also detained Iqbal's driver, Billy's personal assistant and a hotel office clerk.

Two outsourced company drivers, who used to drive Billy's car, were taken by the KPK for further questioning. The KPPU has yet to decide on Iqbal's long-term employment status.

"We will wait for the court ruling to see if Iqbal is really guilty," KPPU chairman Syamsul Maarif said Thursday, as quoted by Antara.

"We will then hold a plenary meeting to make a recommendation to the President on his status (at the KPPU)." The KPPU has suspended Iqbal from duty and his position has been taken over by another commissioner.

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