Indonesia Court Finds Oil Regulator Chief Guilty in Bribery Case

Indonesia’s corruption court sentenced Rudi Rubiandini, the head of the country’s energy regulator, to seven years in jail for accepting more than $1.5 million in bribes.

Rubiandini was found guilty of money laundering and receiving cash by the Corruption Eradication Commission’s court in Jakarta today, said Riyono, a prosecutor for Indonesia’s anti-graft agency known as KPK. Rubiandini, detained by the agency in August last year, received gifts of $1.4 million and S$200,000 ($159,000) to influence crude oil tenders and a gas price formula for a company, according to court papers.

The verdict is the highest-profile conviction this year by the agency, which has in the past decade caught government ministers, chief executives and central bankers. Indonesia ranked 114th among 177 countries in a 2013 Transparency International survey on corruption perceptions, undermining the investment appeal of Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

“The important thing is what we have charged has been proven,” Riyono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told reporters in the court room. The sentence includes a fine of 200 million rupiah ($17,000) or an additional three months in jail if it isn’t paid, he said.

Rubiandini couldn’t be reached for comment after three calls and messages to his mobile phone by Bloomberg. Rubiandini’s lawyer Rusydi Abubakar did not respond to a phone call and message to his mobile phone seeking comment.

The agency is still scratching the surface of the 7,000 reports of graft it gets each year from across the archipelago of the world’s fourth-most populous nation, Adnan Pandu Praja, its vice chairman, said in an interview on Feb. 12. The agency expects to catch “big fish” and is investigating growing political corruption in the run-up to July elections this year, he said on April 4.

New Regulator

A constitutional court ruling in 2012 forced the government to disband independent oil-and-gas regulator BPMigas and instead set up a task force under the energy ministry, which was called SKK Migas. Rubiandini, formerly the deputy minister for energy and minerals, was appointed head of the new agency in January last year, as the government sought to boost domestic oil output amid rising fuel consumption.

Rubiandini is still the non-active head of SKK Migas, with the agency waiting for a government decision on any replacement, Handoyo Budi Santoso, a spokesman at the regulator, said by phone after the verdict.

Indonesia will produce 804,000 barrels a day of oil this year, falling short of the government’s target of 870,000 barrels, J. Widjonarko, the acting head of SKK Migas, said in December. The country decided in 2008 to pull out of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as aging fields and slumping output turned it into a net oil importer.

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