JAKARTA : Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo and his wife have used part of bribe money to buy a Rolex watch and luxury handbags during their trip to Hawaii, according to new details that emerged during a press conference by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday night.
The couple were arrested just after midnight on Wednesday along with 15 other people who were taken into custody in separate operations.
The commission alleged that Edhy and his colleagues have accepted at least Rp 9.8 billion ($693,000) in bribe from exporters who took advantages from his decision to lift the ban on lobster larvae export.
At least seven people have been named corruption suspects in the case, but Edhy’s wife, House of Representatives member Iis Rosita Dewi, is not among them.
“After a series of interrogations followed by a thorough review into the case, the KPK concluded that an act of corruption has been committed by a state official who accepted bribe in exchange for fishery business licenses,” KPK Deputy Chairman Nawawi Pomolango said in the new conference at his office in South Jakarta.
He said investigators have seized ATM cards; Rolex and Jacob & Co watches; Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Tumi handbags and suitcases; and Old Navy apparels from the suspects.
“During their trip to Honolulu, the United States, EP and IRW spent around Rp 750 million on a Rolex watch, Tumi and LV handbags and Old Navy clothes on November 21-23,” Nawawi said, referring to Edhy and his wife by their initials.
Partners in Crime
Edhy and his aides are accused of accepting bribe from businessmen and misusing their authority for personal gains.
The suspects include Edhy; his two aides named Safri and Andreau Pribadi Misanta; an employee of shipment company Aero Citra Kargo named Siswadi; director of export company Dua Putra Perkasa Pratama identified as Suharjito; a personal aide of Edhy’s wife named Ainul Faqih, and a man identified as Amiril Mukminin.
Andreau and Amiril were not among the 17 people arrested during separate operations at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang Banten, in Jakarta and in Depok, West Java from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.
Both men remained at large.
“We call on the two suspects to turn themselves in to the KPK immediately,” Nawawi said.
According to the case document, Edhy appointed Safri and Andreau in May to lead a team tasked with verifying companies eligible for lobster larvae exports.
The two men later became Edhy’s accomplices in the crime by collecting money from exporters and channeling it to their boss. Both men have told exporters than the shipment should use service only from Aero Citra Kargo at a specified tariff.
Dua Putra Perkasa Pratama have used the service for at least ten shipments of lobster larvae to foreign markets, according to the document. The export company along with several others have transferred at least Rp 9.8 billion to Aero Citra Kargo and the money later found its way to the aides and the minister himself, it reads.
On November 5, an amount of Rp 3.4 billion was transferred to a bank account belonging to Ainul Faqih, the personal aide of Edhy’s wife.
The money was intended for the minister and his wife as they travelled to Honolulu, where they spent part of the ill-gotten money on luxury goods, according to the document.
Edhy is the third active minister in the President Joko Widodo cabinet to be implicated with a corruption case, after former youth and sports minister Imam Nahrawi and former social affairs minister Idrus Marham.
The latter was convicted guilty of corruption unrelated to his ministerial job, while Imam is serving a jail term for accepting bribe while in office.
The president is making it clear he will not intervene in the legal proceedings against Edhy, who is also an executive with the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra.
“I believe the KPK is working transparently, openly and professionally,” the president said at his office.
“The government consistenly supports every attempt to prevent and eradicate corruption,” he added.
Speaking separately, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud M.D. said the government will cooperate with the KPK during the ongoing investigation.
“The government will never intervene and we allow the legal proceedings to continue according to the existing laws,” Mahfud told reporters at his office.
He said the government doesn’t know yet precisely the graft case involving Edhy, but “whatever it is, the government will support what the KPK is doing right now”.
“We have told the KPK to go ahead and promised our support for any attempt to eradicate corruption,” he said.
BY : FANA SUPARMAN & HERU ANDRIYANTO – JAKARTA GLOBE