Companies setting forest fires may link to money laundry probe

EoF News / 24 October 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) -The Ministry for Environment reiterated that probe on Riau’s timber and palm oil companies --who named suspects due to allegedly setting forest and land fires in June--  would be proceeded including to prosecute  them with money laundry verdict, an official said.

Deputy Minister for Law Enforcement of the Environmental Ministry, Sudariyono, said that his organization has gained sufficient evidences to summon the companies allegedly involved in  setting forest fires inside their concessions. “We also get experts from Agricultural Institute of Bogor (IPB) involved to collect proofs in this investigation,” Sudariyono added, as quoted on Antara News online.

While, Riau Police chief Brig Gen, Condro Kirono said here  Monday that the police have named  29 other suspects responsible for forest fires occured in the province in June.  Some of the suspects were already on trial for their alleged misconduct, while others were undergoing further investigation, as quoted by the Jakarta Post.

All the suspects are accused of violating Article 46, 48, and 49 of the plantation regulation and Articles 117,118 and 119 of the environmental regulation where the penalty could be sentenced  between 3  and 10 years in jail.

Bisnis Indonesia newspaper reported last month that eight companies named suspects in allegation to set the wildfires intentionally that stipulated in Protection and Management of the Environment (PPLH) Law number 32 year 2009.

Bisnis cited five pulpwood suppliers named suspects namely PT BMS, PT BBHA, PT RUJ, PT SPM and PT SRL.  Eyes on the Forest still verifies PT BMS on the list of HTI (industrial timber plantation) companies, but the coalition confirmed that PT Bukit Batu Hutani Alam, PT Sakato Pratama Makmur, and PT Ruas Utama Jaya are suppliers of APP/Sinar Mas. While, PT Sumatera Riang Lestari are supplier of APRIL.

PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (PT SRL), one of APRIL’s timber suppliers in Riau which owns concessions of about 38,000 ha in Rupat Island, Bengkalis District, Riau, that Sudariyono said that the allegations addressed to the company not only of setting fires, but also allegedly money laundry. For that, the ministry has been working with the National Police, Attorney General, Ministry of Forestry and PPATK, he said as Antara reported this week.

Walhi (Friends of Earth Indonesia) chapter Riau hailed the environmental ministry to investigate involvement of timber companies including PT SRL and PT RUJ for money laundering crime that related to fires and haze the concessions caused in June.

“We support the Ministry for Environment’s move to probe money laundry crime to PT SRL or other timber suppliers or palm oil firms following investigation on their alleged fires setting,” said Walhi Riau Director, Riko Kurniawan.   Riko urged the police and government to rescind permits of companies who constantly produced fires hotspots and allowed their concessions to be raged by fires for years. “It shows their failure to secure their concessions from forest fires and illegal practices as Law of Forestry stipulated.”