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Indonesian business regulator takes bribe


September 18, 2008

Indonesian business regulator takes bribe
Indonesia's anti-corruption watchdog has arrested a member of the business competition regulator carrying almost 53,000 dollars in bribe money, AFP quoted an official as saying Wednesday.

Mohammad Iqbal was arrested late Tuesday as he exited a lift in a five-star Jakarta hotel, where he had accepted a bribe from a businessman, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman Johan Budi told AFP.

The businessman, Billy Sundoro of the Lippo Group's broadband multimedia service provider First Media, was also detained.

"The transaction was made inside the hotel elevator," Budi said.

Both men have been declared suspects and taken into police custody to await trial, he said. Iqbal could receive up to 20 years in prison and Sundoro faced 10 years.

Iqbal is a member of the powerful Commission for Supervision of Business Competition, which last year found Singapore state-linked investment firm Temasek Holdings guilty of monopolistic practices in the local phone market.

A state appeal court earlier this year upheld the competition watchdog's ruling ordering Temasek to divest its stake in one of two of Indonesia's largest telecoms operators and gave it 12 months to comply.

The decision was criticised in Singapore as well as in Indonesia, which is trying to attract foreign investment amid a privatisation drive aimed at reducing the budget deficit.

Former KPPU chief Sutrisno Iwantono said the arrest cast a dark shadow over the credibility of the competition commission.

"I hope that the allegation that he has received a bribe is not true. If it's true, it means that he has ruined the KPPU's credibility that has been built up for the past eight years," Iwantono told Antara state news agency.

Iwantono also said he believed the KPPU was being politically manipulated.

"The KPPU should maintain independence," he said.

Indonesia is one of the world's most corrupt countries and ranks 143rd on Transparency International's global corruption perceptions index, alongside Russia, Togo and Gambia.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to stamp out corruption when he was elected in 2004, and the KPK has launched an aggressive campaign of investigations this year ahead of 2009 elections.

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