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Ex-trade minister Muhammad Lutfi interrogated by prosecutors over illegal CPO exports

Jakarta Globe - August 9, 2023

Medikantyo Adhikresna, Jakarta – Former Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi underwent interrogation at the Attorney General's Office (AGO) in Jakarta on Wednesday morning as a witness in the investigation into illegal exports of crude palm oil (CPO).

Upon his arrival at the AGO around 8.55 a.m., Lutfi did not provide any statements to the awaiting journalists.

Two weeks ago, Chief Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto was also interrogated by prosecutors regarding the issuance of permits for several companies to export CPO and its derivative products between January 2021 and March 2022, despite domestic supply shortages during that period.

The export ban was subsequently enforced between April and May of last year.

Prosecutors allege that a Trade Ministry official who issued the permits had accepted bribes.

The case has led to the conviction of five defendants, who received prison sentences ranging from five to eight years. Among them are Indra Sari Wisnu Wardhana, the former Trade Ministry's director general of international trade; Lin Che Wei, a renowned market analyst and advisor to Airlangga; Master Parulian Tumanggor, commissioner of Wilmar Nabati Indonesia; Stanley MA, manager of Victorindo Alam Lestari; and Pierre Togar Sitanggang, general manager of Musim Mas.

The AGO initiated a new phase of investigation by naming three companies – Wilmar Group, Permata Hijau Group, and Musim Mas Group – as "corporate suspects" in the same case. Prosecutors contend that these companies were granted CPO export permits despite lacking the necessary qualifications.

Allegedly, these companies fraudulently obtained CPO export licenses from the Trade Ministry, resulting in an estimated state loss of Rp 6.47 trillion ($425.7 million), according to AGO estimates.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/extrade-minister-muhammad-lutfi-interrogated-by-prosecutors-over-illegal-cpo-export