Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency plans to question Lippo Group vice chairman James Riady as it probes the business conglomerate for allegedly bribing government officials to secure permits for its flagship $18bn township project near Jakarta.
The nation’s Corruption Eradication Commission, known as KPK, “sees the need to probe James Riady and other witnesses from Lippo and Bekasi regency,” Febri Diansyah, agency’s spokesman, said in a text message on Friday.
The commission on Wednesday searched 10 locations, including Riady’s home and a senior executive at Lippo Group who was arrested, and seized documents related to permits, financial records and electronic devices. “Riady remains fully committed to assisting the KPK in their efforts as is necessary,” Sylvia McKaige, an external spokeswoman for Riady, said in a statement on Thursday.
She didn’t immediately respond to request for comments on KPK’s plan to question Riady. The plan to question Riady follows the detention of the Lippo Group director, along with another employee, two consultants and government officials from the Bekasi regency in West Java province this week in the bribery case related to the development of the Meikarta township project, touted as the “Shenzhen of Indonesia.”
This is the second time Lippo has become involved with the anti-corruption agency, which identified the director only as “BS.” Local newspapers Bisnis Indonesia, Jakarta Post and Kompas identified him as Billy Sindoro. Sindoro was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009 for bribing Indonesia’s antitrust agency, according to KPK.
The planned 278tn rupiah ($18.3bn)
development, covering 22 square kilometres of the Bekasi-Cikarang district on the outskirts of Jakarta, is the largest undertaking in Lippo’s 68-year history.
It would provide access to what would be the first high-speed train in Southeast Asia and gardens modelled on Manhattan’s Central Park. The group has said the project will be jointly funded by partners such as Mitsubishi Corp, Toyota Motor Corp and Sanko Soflan Holdings. The project, developed by PT Lippo Cikarang’s unit PT Mahkota Sentosa Utama, has already completed residential towers and pre-sold thousands of units.
Lippo Group was founded by James’ father, Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady, and has interests in property, health care, education, retail, television and financial services in Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
PT Matahari Department Store, supermarket operator PT Matahari Putra Prima, PT Siloam International Hospitals and Internet and cable TV provider PT First Media are among the listed companies controlled by the group. Shares of Lippo Cikarang dropped 2.3% in Jakarta on Friday, extending losses this week to 20%, the most since May, while its parent PT Lippo Karawaci rose 0.7%, retreating 7.4% this week.