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 Indonesian minister denies link to beef corruption

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Indonesian minister denies link to beef corruption Empty
BerichtOnderwerp: Indonesian minister denies link to beef corruption   Indonesian minister denies link to beef corruption Icon_minitimeza 2 feb 2013 - 8:37





ABC News, 2 February 2013,


Indonesia's agriculture minister has been forced to deny reports he is linked to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal involving the country's biggest importer of beef from the US and Australia.

Minister Suswono's department is being investigated and his party chairman has already been detained for allegedly pocketing $100,000.

The beef industry in Indonesia says there is a shortage of supply because the government is cutting imports.

It has slashed import quotas by about 80 per cent since 2010 in an effort to achieve self-sufficiency.
Audio: Listen to George Roberts' report (AM)

Now, the country's biggest beef importer, Indoguna Utama, which brings in stock from Australia and the US, is accused of paying $4 million in bribes to government officials.

Mr Suswono has welcomed the corruption eradication commission investigation into his department.

"Basically we will leave all of this to the legal process. The corruption commission has spent a whole day investigating the director-general of Livestock and Animal Health Office," he said.

"We are open and cooperative to the investigator; I have ordered my director-general to give any documents, whatever the commission asks for."

Amid the investigation, the chairman of his party, Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, has been detained on allegations he took some of the cash.

Mr Suswono responded to reports they spoke before Luthfi's arrest.

"Maybe it happened. I could not remember. Of course there's communication between the party chairman and me often, but if you mean we were talking about imported beef, I can say: never," he said.

However, the minister denies involvement in the kick-back scandal.

Indoguna Utama is a member of the Meat Importers Association.

Its director, Thomas Sembiring, says the cuts to permit numbers could encourage companies to bribe for a better quota.

"Maybe someone come to him, 'I can help you with this'. Here in Indonesia, corruption is everywhere, nothing is free in Indonesia, you have to pay," Mr Sembiring said.

The beef bribery cases are yet to go through the corruption court.




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