Edi Yosfi's name first became known when he hosted a fast-breaking event attended by head of the Democrat Party Advisory Council, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and head of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Amien Rais, on September 14, 2009. His luxurious home in the swanky Pondok Indah neighborhood of South Jakarta, was borrowed by Amien Rais to meet with Yudhoyono, who had been re-elected president.
Present at the event were a number of politicians and former police chief, General Sutanto, who at the time was chief commissioner of state oil company, Pertamina. Edi's close relations with the political elite helped facilitate his businesses in the oil, gas and mineral sectors. "I grew up in Ambon and I have been doing business since my youth," said Edi, who is actually a Minang.
He admitted he was now in a joint venture with Koba Tin. As compensation, he preferred a number of shares in this Malaysian tin company, even knowing that he stands to lose if the company's contract is not extended. Excerpts of the interview with Tempo:
Did you help Koba Tin get its contract extended?
I was offered to collaborate with Koba Tin two years ago because I myself owned mining rights in a company called Mitra Pondasi at Baturusa village in Bangka regency. The known tin reserve is 1,500 tons. I agreed to collaborate with Koba Tin with the condition the company got its contracted extended.
What attracted you to Koba Tin?
Koba Tin's production today is only 500-600 tons per month, far from its capacity of 2,000 tons. Koba Tin's site is owned by both Timah and Koba Tin, but both mining companies don't seem to be operating. They use a contractor and he is the one who manages everything. This business is like the one in Texas: the stronger man wins. These strong men ran Koba Tin into the ground because it was banned from producing, yet the company had to pay its employees.
So, where's the profit if Koba Tin could not produce?
There are many ways to export soldered cables to Singapore. This type is chosen because it is not taxed. I applied for the following condition: the new management team must consist 100 percent of nationals. The expats should just remain passive. The new management team must also take in local miners as partners, so they learn to pay taxes and get reclamation.
What was the advantage in collaborating with Koba Tin?
They needed a valuation because Koba Tin's product was their stock portfolio traded in the Singapore and Malaysian stock exchange.
What would happen if the contract was not extended?
Koba Tin shares could plunge, and don't think the state can take over directly. Koba Tin will take the case to international arbitration, will demand to retain the Koba Tin brand, which has long been known and as for US$17 million case to be deposited with the state to reclaim land. The reclamation produces needs five years and and during that period, there should be no production activities, which should affect the mining industry. Extending it is would be bring more benefits than its collapse.
Your close relations to Minister Hatta Rajasa in Koba Tin reportedly made Energy Minister Jero Wacik be indecisive.
I had no impact. I would be okay what ever the government's decision. I would be grateful if it was extended, but if not, we hope they can do something for the common people.
Did you suggest that Koba Tin senior executives meet with government officials?
I never went to the Energy or the Mineral Resourches Ministry. The extention was the domain of Koba Tin.
Is it true your interest with Koba Tin was because you had set up Optyma Synergy Resources?
It's true that Optima is mine, in collaboration with MSC (Malaysian Smelting Corp). But this hasn't happened. When the contract is extended, it will proceed.
Wasn't the collaboration, proposed by Minister Jero Wacik, approved at the shareholders meeting on August 2012?
It was just a memo given to Pak Wacik. He said there should be no companies within Koba tin, but Thabrani Alwi (expert staff of the Energy ministry) asked me to go ahead. I don't want that because the 'joint' part with Koba Tin would not be there. Is this a trap or what?
Did you ask Hatta Rajasa Anda and Amien Rais to help obtain the new Koba Tin contract?
I did ask Pak Hatta Rajasa. He figured I could negotiate if the shares were divested. But I never had anything to do with Amien Rais. This business is not attractive, tin reserves only stand at 50,000 tons. Look, I'm not bragging, but (I did it) because it involves people and environmental conservation. I swear by God. You can't trade good fortune. If the business is big, I'll fight for it.