Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan: Why should we take rotten goods?

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26 November 2015 10:42 WIB

Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal, and Security Affairs Lhut Binsar Pandjaitan. TEMPO/Subekti.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The name of Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan came up 17 times in a recording that contains the efforts of House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Setya Novanto and businessman Muhammad Riza Chalid to obtain Freeport Indonesia shares. Unlike Vice President Jusuf Kalla who is seeking legal redress, Luhut allowed the use of his name. "I don't feel maligned. I feel it's just normal," he said. Luhut spoke to Tempo reporters Arif Zulkifli and Sunudyantoro, who met him at his office last Thursday about his involvement in the negotiations with Freeport. 

* * * *

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said reported the misuse of the President's and Vice President's names to the DPR ethics court. But you said the President never ordered it. 

The President asked me: Who ordered Pak Dirman to report it to the DPR ethics court? But he seems to know who did it.

But you had a business before you became a government official.

That's why, it's a big headache to manage it. Only someone stupid would want 10 percent of Freeport's shares. That's a public company. Who can afford to pay US$600 million for that divestment? It also has a debt of US$20 billion. Why would anyone want a rotten thing like that?

Did the government say the Freeport contract should not be extended?

In my view, no. I told the President, now that we know about the huge debt, we'd better wait until 2021.

Your name emerged in the transcript that contains a request for the company's shares and has been publicly circulated. 

They want to say that Luhut did this and that.

Did you meet with Freeport's big boss James R. Moffett a few times to discuss the contract extension?

He came to my office (when Luhut was the Presidential Office Chief of Staff). He always came with the US ambassador. I told them it cannot happen. He mentioned one general claimed this and that. I still insisted it couldn't be done.

How many times did you meet with Moffett?

Three times. Twice at the presidential staff office, and once in my home late at night.

You are determined not to extend the contract?

I insisted I didn't want it to happen.

Were you promised Freeport shares by Moffett? 

He offered it to me in 2012. It was in San Diego, not here. He said he wanted to have an IPO, but the government at that time disagreed. There were three interested parties then. One was my own company, Toba Bara Sejahtera. He chose our company and why I accepted was because the profit from coal is big.

Some people said that the conversation between you and Setya Novanto was compensation for getting the DPR to approve the 2015 and 2016 state budgets. 

Not at all. You're making it up.

Freeport once gave some of its shares to an official of the New Order. You want this repeated? 

Who would dare to take it in this era? That's an open company. Freeport could also be held responsible for violating the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

Has oil businessman Muhammad Riza Chalid ever contacted you about this business?

No.

Are you acquainted with Muhammad Riza Chalid? 

I have met him. But I'm lucky, halleluya, I've never had any dealings with him. He has treated me to lunch, and I've done the same to him.

Was the offer in the recording, which included a private jet, a big temptation? 

I would be crazy to accept an offer of a private jet. The fixed cost alone every month costs US$110,000. Where would I get the money? (*)



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