Friday, 21 November 2008

Troubled Indonesian tycoon to drop cabinet post: spokesman

personal note. A Cabinet Minister with a lot of money and investments in the palm oil business.
Troubled Indonesian tycoon to drop cabinet post: spokesman

JAKARTA (AFP) — Indonesia's billionaire Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie will leave the cabinet next year, a spokesman said Friday, as the global economic crisis continued to batter his business empire.

"He has no interest in returning as a minister for the term 2009-2014," Bakrie's spokesman Lalu Mara Satria Wangsa said.

He refused to explain under what circumstances Bakrie would leave.
"He will go when his job is finished. He's not resigning, it's just that he has no intention to continue the next term," he said.

The tycoon and political powerbroker would continue to be a member of the Golkar party, the main group in the ruling coalition under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said.

Bakrie denied reports that he was interested in taking over from Vice President Jusuf Kalla as head of Golkar ahead of elections next year.
"That's not correct. The focus of Golkar is to continue efforts to win the legislative elections," the spokesman said.

Bakrie's family business empire, ranging from construction to coal and palm oil, has been hit hard by the global credit crisis and the slump in commodity prices.

Shares in the group's companies have nosedived by as much as 90 percent as it struggles to pay off 1.2 billion dollars in debt due next year.

Until recently, Bakrie was considered the richest man in Indonesia with a family fortune estimated by Forbes Asia magazine at 5.4 billion dollars.
He told this week he wanted to spend more time with his family and his charity.

"I have already contributed five years of my time. Now, I'd like to play with my grandchildren," he was quoted as saying.

He dismissed allegations of a conflict of interest and suspicions he is using his political influence to try to save his family's faltering business empire.
"Me? Never. Never. I am no longer a businessman. I know what (my family) is doing but I'm not a businessman at all," he said.

"Life is tough at the moment for everybody," he added, referring to the economic downturn.

One of his companies allegedly triggered a devastating mud volcano while drilling for gas in East Java two years ago, killing 13 and displacing more than 36,000.