Friday, April 19, 2024

Defense ministry: Graft allegation in Mirage Jet purchase misleading, slanderous

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Gusty da Costa

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The Ministry of Defence has defended that media reports on alleged corruption in purchase of French-made Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from Qatar, which had been cancelled, were misleading and slanderous.

Deputy Minister of Defence Muhammad Herindra told a medias conference at the ministry’s office in Jakarta on Monday, February 12, 2024, that the issue of alleged corruption could disrupt Indonesia’s defence strengthening roadmap.

“I emphasize that the information is misleading, slanderous,” Herindra said.
“If this continues to expand, it can weaken the Ministry of Defence’s efforts in designing Indonesia’s defence system,” he added.

Herindra said the information on alleged corruption in the Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet purchase was brought up by certain parties and was politically motivated.

“We at the Ministry of Defence regret the slander. We appeal to all parties not to sacrifice national interests just for the sake of momentary political interests,” Herindra said.

He added that the government did not continue the Mirage fighter jet purchase due to limited fiscal space. He said that the Ministry of Defence remains focused on trying to find the best fighter aircraft to protect Indonesia’s airspace. “One of them is the purchase of Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft from France which will soon arrive in stages in Indonesia,” said Herindra.

News about the alleged corruption of the plan to purchase second-hand Mirage fighter jets used by the Qatar Air Force circulated at the end of last week. The Civil Society Coalition group then urged that the information be investigated by law enforcement, although until now there has been no evidence of alleged criminal offences in the fighter jet purchase process.

The Indonesian public was shocked by report disseminated by msn.com, a news web portal affiliated with Microsoft. The report mentioned an investigation by the European Union’s anti-corruption agency (GRECO) into the contract for the purchase of second-hand Mirage 2000-5 aircraft between the Indonesian government, in this case represented by Monister of Defense Prabowo Subianto, and the Government of Qatar.

The deal involved a Czech broker called Excalibur International and a former French Air Force Pilot, named Habib Boukharouba. The msn.com report also mentioned indications of markup in the purchase of the Mirage 2000-5, even though the condition of the aircraft is more than 20 years old. Indonesia must spend USD 66 million for 1 unit, out of 12 units purchased with a total budget of USD 792 million. Meanwhile, the market price in the initial period of production and marketing (20 years ago) only ranged from USD 23 million to USD 35 million.

According to various sources quoted anonymously by msn.com, there was an agreement to provide a kick-back of 7 percent of the total contract, amounting to USD 55.4 million, which will be used to fund Prabowo Subianto’s campaign as a presidential candidate in the 2024 presidential election.

The fantastic kick-back of USD 55.4 million or almost Rp 900 billion for campaign funding does not only mean that there are allegations of corruption in the misappropriation of the State Budget (APBN) but also election violations in the criminal context.

This media report said that the European Union’s Anti-Corruption Commission had sent an European Investigative Order (EIO) to the US Embassy in Jakarta on January 25, 2024, regarding this scandal.

Gusty da Costa

Journalist

 

Editor

 

Interview

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