Former Indonesian social affairs minister Juliari Batubara has been sentenced to 12 years in prison over a multi-million dollar COVID-19 graft scandal.
The Jakarta Corruption Court said on Monday that the former politician was found “convincingly guilty of corruption” after receiving 32.4 billion rupiahs ($2.25 million) in kickbacks in relation to the procurement of goods intended for COVID-19 social assistance packages.
The former minister was also fined 500 million rupiahs, and ordered to pay back 14.5 billion rupiahs in embezzled funds used for personal expenses.
The judges said Juliari would also be banned from public office for four years after serving his prison term.
Juliari had denied any involvement in this matter. His lawyer Maqdir Ismail described the sentence as too harsh and that they are still considering whether they should appeal it.
Indonesia’s anti-graft commission (KPK) named Juliari as a suspect in the case last December along with four others.
At the time, anti-corruption investigators discovered more than $1 million in cash stuffed into suitcases and other containers, a day before the former minister turned himself in.
According to the global watchdog Transparency International (TI), Indonesia has dropped three points on its corruption perception index last year to rank 102 out of 180 countries.