Governor named suspect, Green Groups urge KPK to probe timber cases

EoF News / 13 February 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) — Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Riau Governor Rusli Zainal suspect for National Games PON 2012 graft case as well as for Pelalawan forestry corruption last week.

Two environmental organizations in Riau urged KPK to probe 14 forestry companies that allegedly involved in graft cases as there would be suspects from  companies who bribes and officials who receive them.

“[This] should not stop until Riau officials only,” said Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of Jikalahari, NGOs network to rescue natural forest, as quoted as saying by Antara news agency Tuesday (12/2).

KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said last week (8/2) that Riau Governor Rusli Zainal was also named a suspect in a forest graft case in Pelalawan district beside that he was accused of  violating the Corruption Law and the Criminal Code for his role in PON national games 2012 graft scandal.

Previously, seven local councilors were arrested in connection with the case. KPK investigators also confiscated Rp 900 million (U$94,000) as evidence of the bribe, The Jakarta Post reported last week.

Rusli is suspected of abusing his authority to approve annual work plans (RKT) of several pulp and paper suppliers operating in Pelalawan, the spokesperson said.

Five officials at Riau province including two former district heads had been jailed for corruption cases related to logging licenses and approvals to timber suppliers of two pulp giants in the province, APP and APRIL.

Timber companies

Muslim Rasyid said some witness accounts found at trials in corruption crime court said that pulpwood suppliers had initiative to bribe officials to help business run well.

“Within the [timber] companies, there could be masterminds who are so close to two pulp and paper giants in Riau,” said Muslim.  The companies understood that pulpwood plantation firms would not run their business in Riau due to most of tropical forests are not allowed to clear for pulp conversion.

WALHI Riau Director, Hariansyah Usman, called on Rusli Zainal to tell the truth, particularly about alleged involvement of the two pulp and paper as the 14 companies  could have link with the giants, Antara reported.