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Indonesia central bank ex-chief sentenced to five years in prison for corruption

[JURIST] An Indonesian court on Wednesday sentenced former Bank Indonesia (BI) [official website] chief Burhanuddin Abdullah to five years in prison on corruption charges for knowingly approving the misappropriation of $10 million of the central bank's funds. Governor of BI from May 2003 until May 2008, Abdullah was arrested in April following an investigation by Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) [official website, in Bahasa] into allegations that he approved the use of BI funds to bribe members of the legislature and to pay legal fees to defend other bank officials accused of corruption. Abdullah, who was also fined $23,250, denies the charges and said he will appeal the decision. The KPK also announced [KPK press release, in Bahasa] Wednesday that four more suspects are being investigated in connection with the case, including Aulia Pohan [Jakarta Post report], a former BI senior deputy governor and relative by marriage of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [official website; BBC profile]. Reuters has more. The Jakarta Post has regional coverage.

Abdullah is the highest official to be convicted of corruption in a country which is increasingly considered one of the most corrupt [TI rankings list; regional analysis, PDF] in the world. Yudhoyono was elected on an anti-corruption platform and has since struggled to rein-in corruption in Indonesia's judicial system [JURIST report]. A KPK investigation into suspected embezzlement within the Indonesian Supreme Court [JURIST report] is ongoing. At the time of his death in January, former President Haji Mohammed Suharto [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] faced government charges for embezzling $440 million from the Yayasan Supersemar [official website], a state-funded scholarship fund, between 1974 and 1998. In March, an Indonesian court cleared [JURIST report] Suharto and his heirs of civil liability in the case.

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