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Indonesia minister quits amid haj graft probe

Suryadharma Ali, courtesy of WikipediaIndonesia’s religious affairs minister resigned Monday after he was accused of misusing funds intended to help Muslims make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Suryadharma Ali is one suspect named in an ongoing investigation by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Channel NewsAsia reported.

The investigation is looking into alleged graft two years ago in the organization of the haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The independent anti-corruption agency said it detected suspicious transactions of around $20 million in a special haj fund. The fund consists of government money and cash from those who planned to make the pilgrimage.

One allegation against Ali is that he helped some 100 people, including relatives and lawmakers, skip the queue to go on the haj, instead of waiting years as most Indonesians do.

Ali initially said he would not resign but he changed his mind after meeting Monday with outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Even after resigning, Ali insisted “he was not in the wrong. He remains head of Indonesia’s United Development Party and is not in custody.

The KPK has banned Ali from leaving Indonesia.

He’s the second minister in Yudhoyono’s cabinet to resign over corruption allegations, following the sports minister’s resignation in 2012.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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