JAKARTA Aug 16 A graft scandal engulfing
Indonesia's energy regulator widened on Friday, with three top
officials suspended and barred from travel, as media speculated
the revelations could further damage the ruling party of
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The latest suspensions came just hours after Yudhoyono told
parliament in an annual address that his government would keep
up its battle against Indonesia's endemic corruption.
The Corruption Eradication Agency (KPK) slapped a travel ban
on three senior officials of SKKMigas, which regulates
Indonesia's huge oil and gas industry. The regulator then
On Wednesday, regulator chairman Rudi Rubiandini was
arrested on bribery charges, heightening the uncertainty over
energy policy in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, where oil and
gas production contribute a fifth of government revenue.
The heads of the regulator's crude and natural gas
commercial divisions, Agus Sapto Raharjo and Popi Nafis, and the
chief of operations support, Iwan Rahman, were placed on
temporary leave, said interim Chairman Johanes Widjonarko, who
"To support this legal process at the KPK ... SKKMigas has
taken steps to grant (leave) for these three," Widjonarko said.
The regulator, which has named temporary replacements for
the impugned officials, said the scandal would not affect oil
operations. It has existing contracts with oil majors including
BP Plc, Chevron and Exxon Mobil.
Rubiandini was arrested after he was caught taking around
$400,000 and a BMW motorcycle from a top official of Singapore
energy trader Kernel Oil. A further $190,000 was found at his
home, in the biggest cash seizure by the anti-graft agency.
After his arrest, Rubiandini told domestic media he had not
engaged in corruption but may have been involved in what he
described as a "gratification issue".
Kernel Oil, a small company that trades in crude and oil
products from Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and West
Africa, has denied any involvement.
Domestic media said the scandal could deal another blow to
the troubled ruling Democratic Party, which is already reeling
from separate corruption cases involving several senior members,
and which have contributed to a slump in its popularity ahead of
next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
Regulator SKKMigas forms part of the energy ministry, headed
by Energy Minister Jero Wacik, a senior Democratic Party member.