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LAW ENFORCEMENT

Civil Servant Involved in Money Laundering Still Free

BATAM, KOMPAS — The city administration of Batam, Riau Islands, has not dismissed Niwen Khairiah as a civil servant although the Supreme Court sentenced her to 10 years in prison in February 2016 for her involvement in a money laundering scheme worth about Rp 1.3 trillion.

The head of public relations for the Batam city administration, Ardi Winata, acknowledged that Niwen remained a civil servant with a grade of III/C. "The Batam administration has not yet received a copy of the Supreme Court's decision. We are still seeking to clarify the case," Ardi said on Tuesday (31/1/2017) in Batam.

Niwen not only remains a civil servant, but also still receives a salary, although without allowances. In fact, the appeal decision was issued on Feb. 17, 2016. A panel of Supreme Court judges, led by Artidjo Alkostar, sentenced Niwen to 10 years in prison. She was also ordered to pay compensation of Rp 6.6 billion. If she cannot pay the fine, she will get another five years in prison instead.

Artidjo and his colleagues found Niwen guilty of laundering money gained through illegal oil transactions.

Illegal oil

The Niwen case has been underway since 2014. At that time, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) found funds worth about Rp 1.3 trillion in dozens of Niwen's bank accounts. The funds had been used for illegal oil transactions that were conducted from 2008 to 2013. Each of the transactions, which were controlled by Niwen's brother Mahbub Ahmad, involved tens of millions to billions of rupiah.

The PPATK became suspicious because Niwen was a civil servant with a salary and allowances of only Rp 10 million per month.

More attention was given to Niwen after officers of the Directorate General of Customs and Excise arrested a citizen of Malaysia in June 2014 who was carrying Rp 4.5 billion in cash intended for Niwen. The officers also arrested a tanker ship, the Karisma Pertamina Bangsa, rented by Mahbub. The ship was arrested following the receipt of information that oil carried by a number of tankers rented out by Pertamina had been stolen.

The case was then investigated by the local police. In August 2014 Niwen and Mahbub were arrested. The police also arrested Aguan alias Danun, Yusri and Arifin Ahmad for their alleged involvement in the oil theft syndicate led by Mahbub. The syndicate stole oil from Pertamina tankers in Riau, then sold it to various parties. Most transactions were made at sea and most of the buyers were on foreign vessels.

After the investigation was completed, the police transferred the case to the prosecutors' office in Riau. In March 2015 the trial of Niwen and the others began at the Corruption Court of Pekanbaru. The panel of judges for the Niwen case was led by Achmad Pudjoharsoyo, who is a candidate to be secretary of the Supreme Court.

In June 2015, Achmad Pudjo and his colleagues found that Niwen was not guilty. The judges said that that Niwen did not have evil intentions and that she did not know her accounts had been misused by Mahbub. All transactions made by Mahbub were declared illegal.

Not satisfied with the verdict, the prosecutors appealed. However, the Riau High Court also acquitted her on all charges. Prosecutors then appealed to the Supreme Court, which eventually sentenced Niwen to 10 years in prison and imposed a fine of Rp 6.6 billion.

The Supreme Court not only punished Niwen. Yusri, who was freed of all charges at the Corruption Court in Pekanbaru, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison. The sentences for Aguan alias Danun and Mahbub were increased from four years to 17 years. Both are required to pay fines of Rp 72.4 billion.

Niwen is the only one convicted who has not already been imprisoned. She has not been seen in her office since the case became public. At the time, she worked at the Board of Investment and One Stop Integrated Services in Batam. Her last position was as the head of the section for international cooperation.

Getting more information

The head of the legal, communications and public information department at the Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry, Suryatman Herman, said his office would examine the information related to Niwen's case.

According to him, if an officer had been found guilty by a court and the verdict was final and binding, that person should be removed from office and dishonorably discharged from his or her position as a civil servant. This should be done by the head of the employment counseling department in Riau.

The vice chairman of the commission of the state apparatus, Irham Dilmy, promised to check on the problem. In line with Herman, he said that if the verdict was already legally binding, the person should be dismissed from office.

The vice dean of the school of law of the University of Riau Islands, Rumbadi Dalle, said that someone was called a convict only after a ruling was made on any appeal. The status of the case is not legally binding until the convict uses his or her right to request a judicial review.

According to Law No. 43/1999 concerning the principles of human resources, with her status as a convict, Niwen should have been dismissed. Government Regulation No. 65/2008 and Government Regulation No. 41/2011 mention similar sanctions.

(RAZ/APA)

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