More Riau official sentenced for forestry graft case

EoF News / 10 November 2010

EoF News (PEKANBARU)—Former Riau Forestry Service Head was sentenced to 5-year imprisonment last week by Anti-Corruption Court for receiving bribes from pulpwood plantation companies within 2002-2005 which caused the State loss amount to Rp 889.2 billion (US$ 98.8 million).    

Asral Rachman, the former Riau Forestry Service Head, was also sentenced to pay fine amount to Rp 200 million as the Judges concluded that he was found guilty in issuing logging licenses in Siak and Pelalawan Districts within 2002-2005, reported last weekend (6/11/2010).

The Judges led by Nina Indrawati decided the punishment on a trial of Anti-Corruption Court in Jakarta, last week (5/11/2010). “The defendant is found guilty committing corruption crime,” said Presiding Judge Nani Indrawati before the Court.

Asral was obliged to pay the detriment suffered by the State amount to Rp 1.54 billion which the defendant had paid Rp 600 million to Anti-Corruption Agency (KPK).

Asral issued logging licenses (annual cutting /RKT) to PT Bina Daya Bintara (Asian Pacific Resources International Limited/APRIL affiliated company), PT Seraya Sumber Lestari (APRIL), PT Balai Kayang Mandiri (Asia Pulp & Paper /APP affiliated company), PT Rimba Mandau Lestari (APP), and PT National Timber and Forest Product (APP). 

Asral was Acting Siak District Forestry Service Head (2002-2003) and the Province Forestry Service Head (2004-2005).

He is the second official that prosecuted and sentenced by KPK Anti-Corruption Court following Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar in 2008 whom sentenced to 11 year imprisonment.

At the first trial on 6 July, the Prosecutors said that PT Seraya Sumber Lestari, PT National Timber and Forest Product, PT Rimba Mandau Lestari, PT Bina Daya Bintara, and PT Balai Kayang Mandiri gave money to Asral and Siak District Head Arwin A.S.  following the issuance of the licenses, JPNN reported on 7 July 2010.

The defendant was accused of issuing annual cutting licenses without surveying the area that proposed by the companies, reported. Whereas, the forests that proposed by the pulpwood suppliers were prohibited to fell the trees, the website reported on 5 November 2010.

From 2004 to 2005 Asral as Riau Forestry Service Head had legalized 12 Annual Work Plans (RKT) or annual cutting approval that allowed forest conversion into plantations throughout the province. 

Siak District Head Arwin A.S is also prosecuted by the Anti-Corruption Court now, while other former Riau Forestry Service Heads, Burhanuddin Husein and Syuhada Tasman, had been named suspects over graft cases in issuing logging licenses, KPK spokesperson Johan Budi told Tribun Pekanbaru last weekend.

Meanwhile, Director Executive of Walhi’s (Friends of Earth Indonesia) Riau Chapter, Hariansyah Usman, urged KPK Anti-corruption Court to probe and prosecute people from pulpwood companies who bribed the officials. 

Related story on the graft case