INDONESIA - Following the disclosure that a close friend of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, identified as Sengman Tjahja, could have played a role in the bribery case surrounding the government's beef-import policy, more questions were asked about the possible role of more influential individuals in the scandal.
Other than Sengman, last Friday's testimony from Ridwan Hakim, son of Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chief patron Hilmi Aminuddin, indicated that more members of the First Family's inner circle could be involved in the beef importation scandal.
In a hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court last week, prosecutors played a wiretapped phone conversation between Ridwan, former PKS chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq and a woman referred to by both as Bunda Putri.
In the conversation, Luthfi told Ridwan that "Bunda influences [mengkondisikan] decision makers."
Ridwan declined to reveal the identity of Bunda, only saying that she was his business mentor.
Several news outlets, however, reported that Bunda refers to Sylvia Sholehah, a close friend of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, who was speculated to have also played a go-between role for politicians and government officials with project contractors for the graft-ridden Hambalang sports complex project.
She was first mentioned in the investigation report of Mindo Rosalina Manulang, former marketing director of PT Anak Negeri, a company owned by former Democratic treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin.
"Wafid Muharram [former secretary to the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister] said that there was a businesswoman recommended by Angelina Sondakh [former Democratic Party lawmaker] who wanted to do the project," Mindo said in a copy of the report, which was made available to The Jakarta Post recently.
"And there was also an entrepreneur who was recommended by the Cikeas household department, whose name I forgot," she said.