EoF News (PEKANBARU) — Three local government officials and one staff of PT Sumatera Riang Lestari, timber supplier for Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), were detained by Riau Prosecutors Office for allegedly embezzling the state’s income from forestry tax.
Antarariau news online reported Thursday (31/1) that the Prosecutors Office detained the four people here due to that forest corruption corruption costs IDR 1.9 billion loss.
“They named suspects, and are detained due to it is feared they will run away,” said spokesperson of Riau Prosecutors Office, Andri Ridwan, as quoted by Antariau as saying.
Andri said the corruption case took place in Indragiri Hilir distric where three officials, Rahmat Sutopo, Abdul Razak and Heru Santoso, worked at the local Forestry Service. While PT SRL, APRIL’s main supplier, Husnizar, were also named suspect.
The probing by the Prosecutors Office traced alleged emblezzment on local retribution fee from felling of logs by APRIL’s PT SRL following early investigation in 2009 by the Center for Reporting and Analysis of Financial Transaction (PPATK), an anti-money laundering agency set up the Government.
PPATK recommended the Prosecutors to investigate suspected transactions by the three officials of Indragiri Hilir Forestry Service.
“So the money that should have been submitted to local government’s account surprisingly transferred to that forestry official [Heru Santoso],” the Prosecutors’ spokesperson said.
On 6 Jan 2010 EoF News reported based local media coverage on this issue. Three officials at Indragiri Hilir Forestry Service were questioned by the Riau Province Forestry Service for allegedly manipulating hardwood tax from timber cleared by PT Sumatera Riang Lestari, an associated company to Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).
Thousands of mixed logs that cleared in natural forest in Kerumutan block were seized by the police in Siak river in November and December 2009. Latest development that reported by Riau Mandiri daily (4/1/2009) said that the involvement by the district forestry service officials hinted illegal cooperation by the civil servants and the APRIL’s company, PT SRL, for alleged tax evasion.
The report said the conspiracy had inflicted billions of rupiah loss to the State by evading Rehabilitation Fee (DR) and Provision of Forest Resources (PSDH). Asmawi, a resident from Kempas sub-district, said that the company paid 2 US dollar less than it ought pay amount to 14 US dollar per cubic meter for Meranti hardwood.
Jikalahari and ICW
Jikalahari, Riau NGOs network and Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) in its statement two weeks ago urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to name suspects for
20 people of corporate management and directors of timber and pulp companies in Riau for allegedly involved in forestry corruption in Pelalawan and Siak districts which jailed five officials including two district heads.
The two groups also urged KPK to nab Rosman, former General Manager Forestry of PT RAPP (APRIL’s main supplier) who is at large, and name him suspect for allegedly involved in Pelalawan forest corruption.
“The arrest of Rosman will enormously help investigation on corporate involvement in the forest corruption cases in Riau province,” the joint statement said.
Jikalahari and ICW also called on KPK to probe 11 pulpwood suppliers which were not registered on Forestry statistics in 2011 such as PT Madukoro and PT Triomas FDI. Both asked KPK to name Riau Governor Rusli Zainal suspect of logging license issuance in 2004.