Indonesian agency identifies new suspects in high-level graft probe

JAKARTA Wed May 14, 2014 7:06am EDT

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - A graft scandal that has engulfed the top levels of Indonesia's oil ministry widened on Wednesday, with the anti-corruption agency identifying the head of parliament's energy committee and a company executive as suspects in the case.

The Corruption Eradication Agency (KPK) added the two suspects to its investigation of the former head of energy regulator SKKMigas, Rudi Rubiandini, who was sentenced to seven years in prison last month for accepting more than $1 million in bribes.

The graft case threatens to undermine Indonesia's attempts to attract more investment from global energy firms, several of which have threatened to scale back operations due to uncertainty about the investment environment.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi said one of the two suspects was the chairman of parliament's energy committee, but only identified him by his initials S.B. It is KPK policy not to give a suspect's full name.

The lawmaker is suspected of violating bribery laws.

Sutan Bhathoegana is head of parliament committee VII, which oversees energy, natural resources and environment.

"(We) suspect corruption took place in connection to the revised budget for 2013 at the energy and mineral resources ministry with the suspect S.B. as chairman of parliament committee VII," Budi was quoted as saying to reporters on TV One news.

Bhathoegana denied any wrongdoing in the Rubiandini case, Antara news reported in February. The lawmaker, who is a member of the ruling Democratic Party, did not answer repeated calls following the KPK announcement on Wednesday.

The anti-graft agency also said the president director of Kaltim Parna Industri (KPI) was a suspect, but only identified him by his initials A.M.S. The president director of KPI is Artha Meris Simbolon.

"(We) suspect corruption took place in connection with the suspected giving (of gratification payments) to the head of SKKMigas ... and made by suspect A.M.S., who is the president director of KPI," Budi said.

Simbolon was unavailable for comment and KPI's offices in Jakarta and Kalimantan also declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Anastasia Arvirianty; Editing by Randy Fabi, Jonathan Thatcher and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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