High-profile Indonesian graft case key for investment outlook

High-profile Indonesian graft case key for investment outlook

Indonesia’s former parliamentary speaker will be back in court today. Setya Novanto is charged with inflating the cost of a

Indonesia corruption

Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta

Indonesia’s former parliamentary speaker will be back in court today. Setya Novanto is charged with inflating the cost of a 2009 state electronic identity card program by $170 million and pocketing some $7 million.

Mr Novanto is the biggest catch yet for the Corruption Eradication Commission, which has convicted 119 members of parliament and 17 governors during its 15-year tenure.

Although the commission enjoys an 80% approval rating and popular protests in its favour, it has come under attack from the Indonesian government. In apparent attempts to weaken the body, President Joko Widodo appointed a series of inexperienced commissioners to its head and lawmakers cut its budget by a quarter last year.

The case is a litmus test for Indonesia’s battle against corruption. A conviction or honest acquittal would enhance the rule of law. If Novanto escapes on another technicality, it could arrest the 260-million-strong nation’s decline in corruption, harming both investor confidence and Indonesia’s impressive economic growth.

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