Bambang Irianto (Source: tribunnews)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on September 10 named a former managing director of the trading arm of state-owned energy company PT Pertamina as a suspect in a graft case linked to oil trading with a Singapore-based company.

After nearly five years investigating what authorities have described as an “oil and gas mafia”, the agency charged Bambang Irianto, former managing director of Pertamina Energy Service Pte. Ltd. (PES), with receiving bribes from Singapore-based Kernel Oil Pte. Ltd. to secure oil trading deals.

Speaking at a news conference, KPK Vice Chairman Laode Syarif said that Irianto had received at least 2.9 million USD between 2010 and 2013 “for the help he provided to Kernel Oil related to trade of refined oil and crude with PES”.

Irianto, who could not immediately be reached for comment, could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a 1 billion rupiah (71,200 USD) fine if found guilty in a special anti-corruption court.

Syarif said the bribes were channeled through a shell company Irianto set up in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

Kernel Oil had used the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) as a vehicle to circumvent rules that forced PES to prioritise a national oil company in a tender, he said.

“ENOC is an oil company, but it was not its oil that PES bought, it was Kernel’s oil. So it was using ENOC’s flag,” Syarif said.

Pertamina’s spokeswoman Fajriyah Usman said the company “respects the legal case that is underway and the legal principle of the presumption of innocence”.

Pertamina dismantled its trading arm Petral – the parent company of PES – in 2015 under the order of President Joko Widodo. Irianto was also Petral’s chief executive until the company was scrapped.

Widodo had made cleaning up Indonesia’s oil and gas sector a priority when he won the presidency in 2014, hoping it would improve the investment climate in Southeast Asia’s largest economy./.

VNA