Corruption in the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (Bapeten)
Regulation for security and safety is a key element in any new nuclear power proposal, but a particular problem in Indonesia, a country Time Magazine described in 2008 as “still deeply corrupt”. From 1964 until 1998, National Atomic Energy Agency was both the principal operator of the country’s nuclear research facilities, and the body responsible for regulation of those operations. With the prospect of nuclear energy generation, the government moved to improve nuclear regulatory capacity by establishing a new body, the Nuclear Energy Control Board (BAPETEN) in 1998. Both the National Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Control Board, together with other departments, have worked extensively with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other regional bodies such as the Asian Nuclear Safety Network and US, Australian and Japanese nuclear agencies to improve Indonesian nuclear security, safety and licensing procedures.
However, confidence in the capacity of the Indonesian nuclear regulatory body was undermined in 2007 by the high profile arrests and subsequent conviction of senior Nuclear Control Board officers and a prominent member of the national parliament on charges of bribery and corruption. Two senior Nuclear Control Board administrators were sentenced to a total of seven and a half years imprisonment for embezzlement and land fraud and for bribing a government party People’s Representative Council member to facilitate the necessary expansion of the agency’s budget to accommodate the fraud. The politician was also then sentenced to three years in prison.
While the corruption did not reach to the core regulatory capacity of the Nuclear Control Board, the cases provided ample evidence of the fragility of the assumed probity and effectiveness of the nuclear regulatory body and its legislative guardian. Indonesia is one of the most corrupt countries on earth, ranking equal 143rd with Russia in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), and rating only 2.3 on a 0 (highly corrupt) -10 (highly clean) scale.
Ominously, the key reforming government institution that secured the Bapeten fraud and bribery convictions, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), came under attack in the parliament in the run-up to national elections for “invasion of privacy” of corruption probe targets in the parliament. But even after a number of high profile arrests of parliamentarians, one MP said, bribery in the parliament “is still rampant. The KPK has just scared the mediocre corruptors and made the slick ones slicker.”
In political reality, reliance on the domestic Indonesian legislative and judicial process to regulate nuclear power generation is almost futile, and certainly hazardous.
Dua Pejabat Bapeten Divonis Bersalah [Two Bapeten officials convicted], Tempo Interaktif, 22 Pebruari 2008.
[Partial translation:] The judge’s council of the Anti-Corruption Court [Tipikor] has sentenced two officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (Bapeten), Sugiyo Prasojo and Hieronimus Abdul Salam. Hieronimus was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment and a fine of Rp. 200 million, while Sugiyo received three years and a fine of Rp. 200 million.
Sugiyo was the leader of the Infrastructure and Institutional Upgrading Project, while Hieronimus was the Head of the Bapeten General Affairs Bureau. They increased the price of land on which the Bapeten Centre for Education and Training was to be built. The land was bought for a price of Rp. 19,995 billion or Rp 312,700 per square metre for 63,945 square metres. In fact the price of the land located in that part of Bogor was valued at only Rp 170,000 per square metre. As a result had the fund surplus of Rp 9.5 billion.
Rp 1.27 billion of this surplus in the form of financial documents bilyet and Rp cash 250 million was given to People’s Representative Council member Noor Adenan Razak.
Mantan Anggota DPR Divonis Tiga Tahun [Former People’s Representative Council member receives three years], Republika, 09 Mei 2008.
[Partial translation:] The council of judges of the Anti-Corruption Court [Tipikor] in the Jakarta Central District Court sentenced the former People’s Representative Council member, Noor Adenan Razak, to three years imprisonment and a fine of Rp. 150 million, or six months in prison in lieu, on Thursday (8/5). The defendant, Noor Adenan, a former People’s Representative Council member between 1999-2004 for the National Mandate Party faction, was on trial for accepting bribes from officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency [Bapeten] in 2004.
The JPU KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission Public Prosecution] team demanded a three year sentence for Noor Adenan for accepting bribes of Rp 250 million and Rp 1.27 billion from the then head of the Bapeten General Affairs Bureau, Hieronimus Abdul Salam, and another Bapeten official, Sugiyo Prasojo, in October 2004. According to the JPU KPK, the bribe was for Noor Adenan to facilitate agreement from the People’s Representative Council for Bapeten’s Additional Budget proposal (ABT) for the Supplementary Budget [APBN Perubahan] in 2004 of Rp 35 billion.
Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Arabella Imhoff
Updated: 2 October, 2008