Security Minister Luhut named in Panama Papers, corruption watchdog says he should step down

The full effects of the explosive Panama Papers – a massive leak of data from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca that provides information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, including the identities of shareholders and directors – have yet to be felt here in Indonesia. The 2,961 Indonesian names said to included in the papers include many prominent Indonesian business leaders and political figures, but it was revealed recently by Tempo that one of Indonesia’s highest ranking government officials, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, is also on that list.

In the leaked documents, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan is listed as the Director of Mayfair International Ltd – an offshore company first incorporated on June 29, 2006. According to the papers, Mayfair is owned by two companies – PT Persada Inti Energi, and PT Buana Inti Energi.

When contacted by Tempo on Thursday, Luhut claimed to have never heard of the company he supposedly owns, saying “I have no idea what Mayfair is.” 

President Joko Widodo’s administration has not yet to make a statement on the issue, but Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s spokesman said that they would wait until the information on Luhut had been confirmed since having an offshore company did not necessarily indicate wrongdoing. 

However, Febri Hendri, chief coordinating investigator from watchdog NGO Indonesia Corruption Watch said that any public official whose name has been found in the Panama Papers document should resign since it was a sign that their ethics have been compromised.

“An ethical line has been crossed. We’re not talking about the law, but the culture of shame and stepping down. It is not something our own politicians possess,” Febri said yesterday when contacted by MetroTV.

Febri acknowledged that being listed in the Panama Papers does not necessarily make somebody guilty of breaking the law, but in the case of public officials it is a strong sign that they have acted unethically against the interests of their own country. He noted that there have been officials in other countries, such as Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who have stepped down from their positions after being named in the Panama Papers, although they had not been convicted of a crime.


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