The Jakarta Post
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo attended on Thursday his first questioning as a suspect after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) detained him for having reportedly received Rp 3.4 billion (US$241,552) and $100,000 in bribes pertaining to a lobster larvae export permit.
Thursday's agenda included health checks and administrative process for the investigation, KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri said, without elaborating further on the matter.
The case is linked to the minister's decision to roll back his predecessor Susi Pudjiastuti's policy against exporting lobster larvae, which he made official by signing Ministerial Regulation No. 12/2020 on May 4 to reopen the exports door.
Edhy allegedly obtained the illicit money from the shareholders of PT Aero Citra Kargo (ACK), identified as Amri and Ahmad Bahtiar, who were suspected of having received the bribes from some businessmen involved in lobster larvae exports, KPK deputy chairman Nawawi Pomolango said.
According to the KPK, the case arose after Edhy, a Gerindra Party executive, issued in May a ministerial decree on the establishment of a due diligence team for lobster cultivation business permits, to which the minister assigned his special staff members, Andreau Pribadi Misata and Safri as the chairman and deputy chairman.
In early October, PT Dua Putra Perkasa (DPP) director Suharjito met Safri at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry's office in Central Jakarta. It was revealed in the meeting that lobster larvae exports could only be performed through PT ACK, which charged Rp 1,800 for each larvae exported -- an arrangement which was a deal between Andreau, PT ACK manager Siswadi and businessman Amiril Mukminin, Nawawi said.
Suharjito allegedly gave $100,000 to Edhy, reportedly in exchange for the issuance of a permit to export lobster larvae.
PT DPP also reportedly wired Rp 731.5 million to PT ACK's bank account, after which Edhy allegedly instructed the due diligence team to issue the permit for PT DPP, which has since sent 10 batches of exports through PT ACK.
"From the money wired into PT ACK's bank account, which is suspected to have originated from a number of lobster larvae export companies, AMR [Amri] and ABT [Bahtiar] each receive transfers of Rp 9.8 billion in total," Nawawi said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday evening.
On Nov. 5, the KPK found Rp 3.4 billion transferred from Bahtiar's bank account to an account in the name of Ainul Faqih, who works for Edhy's wife. The money was reportedly intended for Edhy, his wife Iis Rosyita Dewi, Safri and Andreau, according to the KPK.
During his recent working visit to the US, Edhy and Iis allegedly used some of the money to shop in Honolulu, Hawaii, from Nov. 21 to 23. "[They spent] Rp 750 million on a Rolex watch, Tumi and Louis Vuitton bags, and an Old Navy shirt," Nawawi said.
The minister was among 17 people arrested by the KPK during a string of operations that took place in Jakarta as well as Depok and Bekasi in West Java. Edhy was apprehended at around 1:23 a.m. on Wednesday at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, soon after he returned from the US.
The antigraft body has named seven suspects in the case, including Edhy, Safri, Siswadi, Ainul, and Suharjito, who have been detained since Wednesday. Two other suspects, Andreau and Amiril, are still at large.
All of them have been charged under the 2001 Corruption Law, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a Rp 1 billion fine.
Suharjito was also charged with bribery under the same law, and faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a Rp 250 million fine. (nal)