Migrant who founded Indonesian business empire dies

January 26, 2019 - 7:30 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Eka Tjipta Widjaja, patriarch of one of Asia's richest families and the founder of a sprawling Indonesian conglomerate, has died. He was 97.

Widjaja passed away on Saturday evening, according to Gandi Sulistiyanto, a managing director at the Sinarmas conglomerate.

The son of migrants from Fujian in China, Widjaja was a coconut oil trader on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in the 1930s before building businesses in palm oil, pulp and paper and mining.

Forbes estimated Widjaja's fortune at $8.6 billion last year, making him Indonesia's third-richest person and the family among the 25 richest in Asia.

He had several wives and according to some reports as many as 40 children.

Sinarmas is known for the record $14 billion default of its Asia Pulp and Paper business in 2001. Earlier this decade it became an international pariah as Greenpeace campaigned against its destruction of Indonesia's rainforests.

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