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Businessman allegedly bribes Indonesian regent with diamonds, luxury bags

/ 01:03 PM May 01, 2019

Talaud Islands Regent Sri Wahyumi Manalip (center) arrives at Corruption Eradication Commission headquarters in Jakarta on Tuesday evening. Kompas.com via The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested a businessman who allegedly bought luxury items worth almost half a billion rupiah to bribe Talaud Islands Regent Sri Wahyumi Manalip to win local administration projects in the area.

Bernard Hanafi Kalalo was arrested on Monday night at a hotel in Jakarta when he was allegedly preparing to deliver the items to Sri’s confidant Benhur Lalenoh.

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KPK deputy chief Basaria Panjaitan said Bernard bought two bags, a watch and a set of diamond jewelry worth Rp 463.8 million (US$32,600) at a shopping mall in Jakarta on Sunday night and met Benhur the next day before they planned to return to the North Sulawesi regency to deliver the items as birthday gifts for Sri.

The businessman was allegedly buying the items for the regent so he could secure revitalization projects of two traditional markets in the regency.

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“On the evening of April 29, [KPK investigators] arrested [Bernard, Benhur] and [Bernard’s] driver,” she said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The KPK arrested regency official Ariston Sasoeng in Manado, the province’s capital, a few hours later, and the regent at her office on Karakelong Island. She was directly sent to the KPK in Jakarta.

Sri, who lost her reelection bid last year, is the wife of a judge in North Sulawesi and known for her interests in extreme sports and the high life.

After gaining a notorious reputation among political parties for her alleged extravagance and extreme decisions, she was ousted by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Hanura Party before running independently for her second term in 2018.

In the last months of her tenure, she suspended dozens of high-ranking officials in the regency, causing disruption in the regency administration.

When she arrived at KPK office on Tuesday evening, Sri claimed she had no clue about the gifts.

“I’m so confused because I didn’t accept the items and suddenly they brought me here. It’s not true that I have accepted gifts. It’s not true,” she said.

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The KPK said among the items that Sri was to receive were Chanel and Balenciaga handbags, a Rolex watch and a diamond ring and earrings.

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TAGS: bribery case, KPK, North Sulawesi
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