JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia's anti-graft agency has named the speaker of Parliament a suspect in a corruption scandal in which officials allegedly pocketed more than $170 million in government money.
The chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission, Agus Rahardjo, said on Monday there is sufficient evidence to name Speaker Setya Novanto a suspect in the case.
Anti-corruption police allege that a network of about 80 people, mostly legislators, and several companies used the introduction of a $440 million electronic identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the allotted funds.
Novanto, of the Golkar Party, is the fifth suspect announced in the case, which could turn into a test of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's willingness to take a hard line against corruption since many of the suspects are from parties in the ruling coalition, including Golkar.
An admirer of President Donald Trump, Novanto made an unexpected appearance at a Trump news conference at Trump Tower in New York in September 2015 along with another Indonesian lawmaker, Fadli Zon. Novanto was introduced by Trump as one of Indonesia's most powerful men who would do great things for the U.S.
Rahardjo said Novanto is "suspected of enriching himself or other people by abusing his power" and played a key role in planning the swindle.
Among those named in an indictment presented in March at the ongoing trial of two suspects, who were Ministry of Home Affairs officials, are the justice minister, a former interior minister and two provincial governors. So far they have not been named as suspects and local media report they have denied any wrongdoing.