JAKARTA, Indonesia – Parliament speaker Setya Novanto resigned from his post on Wednesday, December 16, just as the parliament’s ethics committee was set to find him guilty of violating the code of ethics.
Novanto was in hot water for meeting with US mining giant Freeport-McMoran in secret and bringing a businessman with him allegedly to try and negotiate Freeport’s contract extension in Indonesia in exchange for shares.
Novanto’s resignation forced the committee to drop the case against him before the verdict.
The scandal first came into the spotlight after the local arm of Freeport made public a recording between Freeport Indonesia president director Maroef Sjamsuddin and Novanto, who allegedly tried to extort shares from the company.
In the recording, the man alleged to be Novanto is accompanied by businessman Muhamad Riza Chalid. Chalid is heard using the names of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the vice president as he makes demands for $1.8 billion worth of shares from Freeport so they could continue to operate in Indonesia.
Chalid is also heard saying that a senior minister asked Novanto to negotiate for the President, claims that the minister has denied. (READ: Political scandal threatens Jokowi presidency)
Freeport-McMoRan operates one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mines in the eastern Indonesian region of Papua. The company is in talks with the government about extending its contract in Indonesia, which expires in 2021.
Novanto, from the opposition Golkar Party, has denied any wrongdoing, while Jokowi has called for a fair and transparent investigation into the matter.
But this is not the first time Novanto has found himself in trouble.
A few months ago, Novanto appeared at a press conference with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, which raised questions on the lawmaker’s ethics such as why he met with the controversial businessman, and if taxpayers paid for his trip. Novanto is also one of the most notorious figures in the House, due to allegations of graft against him.
Even his appointment as House Speaker was largely controversial. – Rappler.com
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