Top Indonesia official escapes arrest by anti-graft police

Indonesia's anti-graft commission said Thursday it will declare the speaker of parliament a fugitive if he doesn't turn himself in after being accused of involvement in the theft of $170 million of public funds.

Local TV reported that Corruption Eradication Commission officials and paramilitary police went to Setya Novanto's home late Wednesday night in a failed bid to arrest him and were met instead by his wife and lawyer.

Commission spokesman Febri Diansyah said its law enforcement team is still searching for Novanto, who was once hailed by President Donald Trump as one of Indonesia's most powerful men.

"We urge him to surrender," Diansyah said in a text message to The Associated Press. "We'll consider declaring him a fugitive if he is uncooperative."

Anti-corruption police allege that a network of about 80 people, mostly officials and 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 funds.

Novanto, also chairman of the Golkar party, which is part of Indonesia's governing coalition, has denied any wrongdoing.

A Trump admirer, 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.