- Supian Hadi, the head of East Kotawaringin district, is the latest politician to be charged with corruption over the issuance of licenses in the natural resource sector.
- Rather than catch him in the act of taking a bribe, anti-graft investigators used other means to build a case against Supian. They say they have evidence he took bribes in exchange for granting mining permits.
- The anti-graft agency started investigating Hadi after receiving a complaint from the public about his alleged corruption.
JAKARTA — Investigators in Indonesia have arrested a politician on charges of corruption stemming from the issuance of mining permits on the island of Borneo.
Supian Hadi is the head of East Kotawaringin district in Central Kalimantan province. He was charged over licenses he issued to three companies: PT Fajar Mentaya Abadi, PT Aries Iron Mining and PT Billy Indonesia.
Supian’s arrest is notable because it follows a lengthy investigation by Indonesia’s anti-graft agency, the KPK, which normally operates by tapping politicians’ phones and then catching them in the act of taking a bribe.
There was no such sting operation for Supian. Nevertheless, KPK deputy head Laode Syarif told reporters in Jakarta on Feb. 1 that the agency had evidence of bribery, delivered to Supian via “a third party.”
He added that after Supian was elected to serve as district chief in 2010, he gave a mining permit to PT Fajar Mentaya Abadi, a company in which members of his campaign team held shares and served as directors.
The permits to all three companies were issued in breach of procedures, Laode said, and the firms went on to damage the environment through their activities, resulting in state losses upward of 5.8 trillion rupiah ($415 million).
“With this investigation, the list of regional chief executives caught in corruption cases grows,” Laode said, “both in the alleged acceptance of bribes and in the misuse of authority in the issuance of mining permits to businesspeople.”
The investigation began with a complaint from the public, according to KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah.
Safrudin Mahendra, the head of local NGO Save Our Borneo, said the organization reported Supian to the KPK in 2014, under the leadership of the late Nordin Abah, who passed away in 2017 after years of investigating corruption in the province.
Nordin also filed numerous reports to the KPK about Darwan Ali, the longtime head of neighboring Seruyan district and Supian’s former father-in-law. Supian was married to Darwan’s daughter Iswanti, now the head of Seruyan herself. They divorced after Supian had a much-publicized affair with a dangdut singer.
An investigation by Mongabay and The Gecko Project published last year revealed how Darwan presided over an elaborate scheme to use shell companies and proxy owners to sell oil palm plantation permits to some of the world’s largest firms. Darwan issued permits to shell companies set up by his relatives and cronies, who then flipped the companies, permits attached, to the larger firms, including Wilmar International and Triputra Agro Persada. Iswanti and her siblings participated in the scheme, documents show. The KPK investigated but never pressed charges.
Safrudin called on the KPK to broaden its inquiry beyond the three companies said to have bribed Supian Hadi to all of the firms he gave licenses to. There are nearly 50 companies mining bauxite, coal and iron ore in East Kotawaringin, he said, and most received permits from Supian.
Bauxite mining in Central Kalimantan is generally open pit, according to Safrudin. “It will have a very bad impact on the environment,” he said.
“The KPK should not stop at Supian Hadi,” Safrudin added. “There must be other public officials involved, especially those who rank higher than him.
“The permits of companies that have paid off state officials must also be evaluated. Revoke their permits if needed. And don’t just arrest government officials but company executives too.”
Others echoed the call to go after corporate executives implicated in bribing public officials.
“There’s two sides to corruption: the giver and the receiver,” said Dimas Hartono, the head of the Central Kalimantan chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), an NGO. “The giver must be punished [too].”
One of the companies, PT Billy Indonesia, is also implicated in a corruption scandal involving the ex-governor of Southeast Sulawesi province, Nur Alam.
This story was reported in part by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and was first published on our Indonesian site on Feb. 2, 2019.
Banner: Supian Hadi, center, at a campaign event in 2009. Image courtesy of Facebook.
FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.