The detention of Dahlan, who was once a presidential hopeful at the Democratic Party presidential convention in 2013, was made immediately after investigators declared him a suspect.
“I am not surprised at being declared a suspect, and to be detained shortly afterward. As you know, I have become a target by [those] in power,” Dahlan told reporters in Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday evening, as quoted by kompas.com.
The East Java Prosecutor’s Office charged Dahlan under articles 2 and 3 of the 2001 Corruption Law, which carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.
Dahlan was named a suspect in his capacity as former director of the province-owned company PT Panca Wira Usaha (PWU) that he led from 2000 to 2010. Investigators found irregularities in the sales of 33 assets belonging to PWU during his tenure as director.
“He was declared a suspect today and detained with regard to the sales of PWU assets in Kediri and Tulungagung, in East Java,” said intelligence assistant of the East Java Prosecutor’s Office Edy Birton.
“He is responsible because he was a director of the company,” he said, adding the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) had yet to finish calculating the total in state losses caused by the problematic sales.
Dahlan claimed he had never benefited from the sales, pointing out that for 10 years he never took a salary from the company.
“I have become a suspect not because I embezzled money or received bribes, but simply because I signed documents provided by my subordinates at that time,” Dahlan said.
Dahlan claimed his arrest was politically motivated, especially after president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s regime ended in Oct. 2014. Dahlan was a close aide to Yudhoyono, the chairman of the Democratic Party who had appointed Dahlan as the director general of state-owned electricity company PLN from 2009 to 2011.
Previously, Dahlan also faced several charges that were eventually dropped.
He was once named a suspect by the Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office in 2015 in a case related to irregularities surrounding the procurement of electricity transformers worth more than Rp 1.3 trillion (US$99.5 million) in 2009.
The Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office appeared to have built a weak case against him as he managed to win a pretrial ruling at the South Jakarta District Court. The court declared his graft suspect status to be illegitimate because of weak evidence and ordered the case to be dropped.
The Attorney General’s Office also pursued Dahlan in the procurement of 16 electric vehicles worth up to Rp 32 billion to be used in the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit held in Bali, but it had failed to name him a suspect.
Earlier this year, the National Police also questioned him several times in a graft case related to the establishment of rice fields in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, in his capacity as former state-owned enterprises (BUMN) minister. The police however have yet to name him a suspect.