Indonesian watchdog names parliamentarian as suspect in corruption case


UPDATE 1-Indonesian watchdog names parliamentarian as suspect in corruption case

* KPK probes "SN" in electronic card procurement case
    * "SN" refers to Golkar chairman Setya Novanto - media
    * Golkar says waiting for official notice from KPK
    * Analysts say the investigation shows KPK's independence

 (Adds comment from Golkar official, analyst, background)
    By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Eveline Danubrata
    JAKARTA, July 17 (Reuters) - Indonesia's anti-corruption
agency is investigating a member of parliament for allegedly
causing state losses of at least 2.3 trillion rupiah ($173
million) during the implementation of a national electronic
identity card, it said on Monday.
    The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) identified the
politician only by the initials "SN", which local media took to
be Setya Novanto, speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR)
and chairman of Indonesia's second-biggest political party,
    KPK Chairman Agus Rahardjo said "SN" is suspected to have
abused his authority to benefit himself or others while the
electronic identity card, locally known as e-KTP, was put in
place in 2011 and 2012.
    Novanto did not respond to requests for comment.
    Nurul Arifin, a spokeswoman for Golkar, said: "We are still
waiting for official notice from the KPK that it had placed our
chairman, Mr. Setya Novanto, as a suspect."
    "The Golkar party follows and respects the process of
upholding the law, and we strongly hold on to the principle of
the presumption of innocence," Arifin added.
    The KPK's large-scale investigation, which implicates
members of President Joko Widodo's ruling party - the PDI-P -
and other parties in his coalition, shows the independence of
the anti-corruption agency, political analysts say.
    "This most certainly demonstrates how tough the KPK is,"
Keith Loveard, a Jakarta-based analyst at Concord Consulting,
said, adding that Widodo is unlikely to get in the way of the
KPK's investigation in the e-KTP case.
    "While all the parties are virtually implicated, including
the PDI-P, public support for the KPK remains extremely high. So
for him to attempt to slow the process or to create obstacles
would be very damaging to his popularity," Loveard said.
    Golkar's secretary general, Idrus Marham, said late on
Monday that the party's support for Widodo's re-election bid in
2019 remains unchanged.
    KPK has been investigating allegations that sums ranging
from $5,000 to $5.5 million - money generated by marking up the
costs of the e-KTP procurement - were divided up in a room in
parliament. [nL3N1GS39X]
    In March, two public servants on trial for corruption linked
to the case identified at least 37 people, including Novanto,
who they said had benefited. [nL3N1GO078]
    Novanto denied that, saying at the time: "The contents of
the indictment that mentions my name and others is absolutely
wrong and all parties must look at the facts from the trial and
... allow the judges to be independent and impartial."
    The scale of the alleged theft in the e-KTP case has created
sensational headlines, even in a country used to corruption
    Indonesia ranked 90 out of 176 countries in Transparency
International's annual Corruption Perceptions index last year,
on par with countries such as Liberia and Colombia.

    ($1 = 13,325.00 rupiah)

 (Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Jakarta Newsroom;
Additional reporting and writing by Eveline Danubrata; Editing
by Robin Pomeroy and Michael Perry)
 ((eveline.danubrata@thomsonreuters.com; +62-21-29927603;
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