Jakarta. A leading anti-corruption expert has urged the head of mining giant Freeport Indonesia to turn whistle-blower in a major scandal involving the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Yenti Ganarsih, a legal scholar on money laundering who serves on a panel selecting commissioners for the national antigraft body, said on Monday that Freeport Indonesia chief executive Maroef Sjamsoeddin should turn state’s witness, or “justice collaborator,” to expose the alleged shakedown of the miner by House Speaker Setya Novanto.
“I think Maroef should do it in the public interest,” Yenti told reporters at the House complex in Jakarta.
Maroef secretly taped a meeting he held in June with Setya and oilman Muhammad Riza Chalid, where the latter two apparently tried to elicit control of 20 percent of shares in Freeport Indonesia that the miner’s parent company, Arizona-based Freeport McMoRan, is supposed to divest by 2019. The value of the shares is estimated at $4 billion.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said last week submitted the recording and a transcript to the House Ethics Council as he filed a complaint against Setya.
The council, which began hearing the matter behind closed doors on Monday, has opted to focus on the technicalities of the complaint rather than the substance, in particular whether the recording made by Maroef is admissible as evidence.
Setya’s lawyer, Firman Wijaya, argued that the recording was invalid because it had been made without the consent of the others present at the meeting and was not authorized by any law enforcement agencies.
Yenti, however, said Maroef could become “the people’s hero” if he was willing to come forward and reveal everything about the meeting. “If the substance of what’s in the recording is of interest to the public, then we have to support it,” she said. “Let’s not get hung up on whether it’s legal or illegal. It’s all about the substance. If Maroef is right, he can be a hero.”