Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has apprehended Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo in a sting operation held in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near the capital on Wednesday.
KPK deputy chairman Nurul Ghufron said during the operation, which was held in the early hours, Edhy was arrested alongside his family members and other officials from the ministry.
“They were arrested early this morning at 1:23am at Soetta [Soekarno-Hatta International Airport] alongside the ministry’s officials and family members,” Ghufron said on November 25.
His arrest was related to an alleged graft case in lobster seed exports. “Yes, KPK apprehended [him] for an alleged graft case related to lobster seed exports,” he said but did not elaborate.
“Yes, KPK apprehended [him] for an alleged graft case related to lobster seed exports,” he said but did not elaborate.
Later in the day, KPK acting spokesperson Ali Fikri said that the operation has arrested Edhy for alleged involvement in the graft case related to the process of choosing candidate companies to export lobster larvae.
Ali said 17 people were apprehended by the KPK investigators during a series of sting operations in Jakarta, Depok, and the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on the outskirts of the capital city.
The 17 people include the minister, his wife, a number of ministry officials, and representatives from the private sector.
“Currently, the KPK is still undergoing intensive questioning of the 17 people,” said Ali.
The KPK has also seized some items, including an ATM card that is suspected of being connected with the alleged corruption.
Previously, the export permits granted by the ministry had generated controversy.
Media reported that some politicians are said to have held key positions in the candidate companies for lobster seed exports.
In his response at that time, Edhy said the licenses to export lobster larvae were issued by a team comprising the Directorate General for Capture Fisheries, Directorate General for Fish Cultivation, and the Fish Quarantine and Fishery Quality Control Agency (BKIPM).
The team also involved the ministry’s Inspectorate General, which is under the supervision of the Secretary General. If the team failed to follow the rules, Edhy said he would not hesitate to revoke their permits.
“The decision was not made by me, but the team. But remember, I also monitor the team to follow the rules,” said Edhy during a previous meeting with the House of Representatives Commission IV, which oversees agriculture, forestry, maritime affairs, fisheries, and food production on Monday, July 6.
In May, Edhy reversed a ban on exports of lobster seeds imposed by his predecessor Susi Pudjiastuti.
Edhy said he had enough reasons to revise the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Regulation No 56/2016 on prohibiting the catching of crab and lobster seeds. He argued that the practice of smuggling the lobster seeds was very high. Therefore, it is better if exports are opened so that it will be easy to control.
He also said the ministry had conducted an in-depth study through public consultations before allowing the resumption of lobster seed exports. “There are 13,000 fishermen who make a living from catching lobster seeds. When this is prohibited, they cannot buy food as they have no income. This is our main consideration,” he argued.