Jakarta – Police are pushing ahead with their investigation of an alleged scam surrounding a halal certification agency, with Vice President Ma'ruf Amin's expert staff member Lukmanul Hakim reportedly questioned as a witness.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Asep Adi Saputra said the investigators would officially summon Lukmanul as a witness in his capacity as the director of the Indonesian Ulema Council Food and Drug Analysis Agency (LPPOM MUI).
"We're currently looking into the witnesses and will summon individuals mentioned in the case report," Asep said on Wednesday, adding that Lukmanul was one of the individuals mentioned in the report.
He said Lukmanul's current position as a vice presidential expert staff member wouldn't impede the ongoing investigation in any way. "Everyone is equal before the law," Asep said as quoted by kompas.com.
The case was reported by German citizen Mahmoud Tatari to the Bogor Police in November 2017. It was handed over to the National Police in October this year.
Tatari reported the case in his capacity as the general manager of Halal Control GmbH, a private halal certification company in Germany.
The police had since named New Zealand citizen Mahmood Abo Annaser a suspect in the case, as all evidence pointed to Annaser allegedly committing fraud using the name of LPPOM MUI, Asep said.
Tatari's attorney, Ahmad Ramzy, alleged that Annaser and Lukmanul had demanded that Tatari pay them US$55,000 in exchange for an accreditation for a halal certification company.
"[Annaser and Lukmanul] asked [Tatari] for a sum of money to restore the name of 'Halal Control GmbH' as a foreign halal certification company on the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) website after its name was previously deleted from the list," Ramzy said.
Annaser, Lukmanul and Tatari then met in Jakarta to discuss the deal on Jun. 26, 2016, he said. "Lukmanul acted as if it was the MUI's official procedure – to have my client directly transfer money to them," Ramzy claimed.
A year later, Annaser and Lukmanul allegedly asked Tatari to pay another fee. The MUI has denied any involvement in the case, saying it was not the council's standard operating procedure. (rfa)