July 16, 2018 / 5:43 AM / a month ago

Indonesia's PLN boss denies links to power station graft case

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The chief executive of Indonesian electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) denied wrongdoing on Monday after the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) searched his house for evidence in a power station graft probe.

Sofyan Basir, the chief executive of Indonesian electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), speaks during a press conference at PLN headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia July 16, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Aprillio Akbar/via REUTERS

“This case is in the hands of a consortium, not PLN,” Chief Executive Sofyan Basir told reporters at a news conference, referring to Riau-1 coal fired power station project partners BlackGold and China Huadian Engineering Co., Ltd. (CHEC).

“It was nothing to do with us at all,” Basir said, referring to PLN unit PT Pembangkitan Jawa-Bali (PJB), which has a majority stake in the project.

The graft was worth 4.8 billion rupiah ($333,000), broadcaster Berita Satu reported.

Basir said the investigators had taken documents related to the proposal from his house during the Sunday raid.

“It’s normal,” Basir said, referring to KPK investigators who arrived on Monday afternoon to search for evidence in the directors’ offices at PLN headquarters in Jakarta.

PLN’s PJB had been in talks for around two years with the consortium, and had yet to reach agreements on power pricing or project operations, he said.

“We’ll take a break,” he said referring to the project. “We don’t know yet how long for.”

PLN’s management is cooperating with investigators and will obey the law, Basir added.

The probe is the latest in a string of high profile graft investigations under President Joko Widodo, who is working to improve the image of Indonesia’s energy sector after a series of scandals implicating government officials.

Eni Maulani Saragih, the deputy chief of parliament commission VII, which oversees the energy sector, was arrested by the KPK on Friday and later named as a suspect on allegations she received bribes related to the project, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said.

The KPK had collected evidence including CCTV recordings and data on laptops, he added.

Also named suspect was Johanes Budisutrisno Kotjo, a former consultant for BlackGold Natural Resources Limited.

Saragih and Kotjo were both detained by the KPK and could not immediately be reached for comment.

BlackGold denied wrongdoing.

“The Directors and management were not, and are not involved whatsoever, in the transaction mentioned,” BlackGold Chief Executive Philip Cecil Rickard said in a stock exchange filing, referring to press statements from the KPK.

“Negotiations on the Riau-1 Project have been progressing as intended,” Rickard said, adding there had been no impact on the company’s business activities.

Reporting by Wilda Asmarini and Tabita Diela; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Christian Schmollinger/Keith Weir

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