Indonesian minister named as suspect in lobster export corruption probe

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Stanley Widianto
·2-min read
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo talks to Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo during a visit in Natuna

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Stanley Widianto

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's fisheries minister was charged with bribery on Wednesday by the country's anti-graft agency after simultaneous raids as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the export of baby lobsters.

Maritime and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo and his wife, who is a lawmaker, were detained at a Jakarta airport on their return from the United States and 15 others were arrested early on Wednesday at locations around the capital, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said.

Edhy, along with six others, were named suspects, Nawawi Pomolango, deputy chairman of the KPK, said late on Wednesday.

Nawawi said the minister was linked to a corruption case related to fisheries permits.

Speaking to reporters live on television, Edhy apologised to the public and said he took responsibility for his actions.

Agung Tri Prasetyo, the ministry spokesman, confirmed Edhy has been named as a suspect and said the ministry would now report to Luhut Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment.

The KPK agency said the coordinated arrests were related to its investigation into the export of baby lobsters, which up until the middle of this year was banned as a measure to replenish stocks. Those detained included private sector individuals and government officials, it said.

Earlier this year, the fisheries minister overturned his predecessor's ban on exporting lobster larvae, prompting concerns about conservation.

Asked about the arrest of one of his cabinet members, President Joko Widodo earlier said his government supported the work of the anti-graft body.

Jokowi, as the president is known, was elected in 2014 on a pledge to fight graft and while several prominent politicians have been jailed for corruption, there have been concerns that the clout of the anti-graft body has weakened during his presidency.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, was ranked 85 out of 198 on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in 2019, improving from 89 a year earlier.

(Additional reporting by Maikel Jefriando and Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Kate Lamb; Editing by Martin Petty, Clarence Fernandez, Kim Coghill and Alison Williams)