Agriculture Minister Suswono admitted to having met Bunda Putri, a mysterious woman said to have played an influential role in the government's beef import scandal, but claimed not to have known her well.
"I met her twice - in 2010 and 2011 - in West Kalimantan," Suswono told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting at the House of Representatives on Thursday. "As far as I remember, we met during a PKK [family welfare movement] event, at which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was also present," Suswono added.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician declined, however, to disclose the identity of Bunda Putri, only saying that "she is a businesswoman but has never been involved with the Agriculture Ministry".
A hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court last week played a wiretapped phone call between Ridwan Hakim - son of PKS chief patron Hilmi Aminuddin -- graft suspect Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq and a woman referred to by both as Bunda Putri.
In the conversation, former PKS chairman Luthfi told Ridwan that "Bunda influences decision makers". At the hearing, Ridwan also declared that Bunda was his business mentor.