Riau Governor named suspect in a land conversion bribery case

EoF News / 13 October 2014
Annas Maamun on trial. Photo courtesy to Riau Corruption Trial

EoF News (PEKANBARU) - Just eight months of ruling as governor, the newly elected Riau governor was caught red-handed by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) at his residence in Cibubur, East Jakarta, late last month.

The governor was nabbed along with a businessman as they were having a bribery transaction for forest conversion in Riau province. The case has continued to legal process and the governor has been inspected as suspect yesterday (13/10).

This week several witnesses were questioned by KPK including officials from Ministry of Forestry and Riau Forestry Service as well as businesspeople from palm oil plantations.

Annas Maamun (AM) was discharged as he was arrested since 25 September 2014. AM was caught along with Gulat Manurung (GM), an oil palm businessman in Kuantan Singingi, Riau province, as they were doing the transcaction for land conversion bribery with SGD 156 thousands and IDR 500 millions (IDR 2 millions in total) were secured by KPK as evidences.

The money was meant for the process of forest conversion as Gulat owns an oil palm plantation of 140 hectares which is included in Industrial Timber Plantation (HTI) in Kuantan Singingi, Riau province. He wanted to change his land into Other Appropriation Area.

Beside that, the money was also meant as a debt bondage for a project in Riau as KPK also found list of some projects that may later take place in the province.

In that case, KPK named the governor and Gulat Manurung suspects. AM as the bribe recipient is based on Article 12, paragraph a or b or Article 11 of the Law on Combating Corruption. While GM as the bribe giver is based on the suspicion of Article 5, paragraph (1) letter a or b or Article 13 of the Law on Combating Corruption, as described by republika.co.id.

A number of witnesses have been interviewed related to the discharged governor’s case. Yesterday inspection is the third inspection conducted since the governor was arrested as suspect. On the same day, KPK also interviewed Head of Forestry Service of Riau Province, Irwan Efendi, as the witness for AM. KPK also already managed an inspection schedule for GM who is also a suspect in the bribery case, as quoted by riauterkini.com.

The bribery case is only one of several controversies that the governor has caused since his inauguration in February 2014. He positioned his families in several strategic positions in Riau. AM is also filed for alleged sexual harassment.

The arrest of AM lengthens the list of Riau governors who are caught by the law enforcement. AM came to power in the replacement of previous Riau governor Rusli Zainal who is now already imprisoned due to the National Games bribery and forestry corruption case.

To EoF, Riko Kurniawan, coordinator of WALHI Riau, expressed his concern over Riau natural forest which has been the victim of corrupt Riau officials, “This is a lesson for us in choosing the next leader and power-holders, they’ve got to be pro-environment, if not, the bad history will always keep repeating in Riau and forest will come to extinction.”