- Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has charged a former district head from Borneo in connection with a port development project.
- Darwan Ali, who was the head of Seruyan district in Central Kalimantan province from 2003 to 2013, is accused of conspiring to inflate the budget to build the Segintung seaport, allegedly causing losses to the state of $1.48 million.
- Investigators also allege that Darwan steered the contract for the project to a developer in exchange for the company’s support for his election campaign.
- Environmental activists say they hope the investigation will lead the way to probing other, more serious allegations against Darwan, who was the subject of a 2017 investigative report by Mongabay and The Gecko Project into a massive scheme to flip permits for oil palm plantations to multinational firms.
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency has charged a former politician from Borneo in connection with a port development project, in a move that could shed light on an earlier scandal involving permits for oil palm plantations.
Darwan Ali, who was the head of Seruyan district in Central Kalimantan province from 2003 to 2013, is accused of conspiring to inflate the budget for a seaport in Segintung Bay between 2007 and 2012. Investigators at the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said the scheme incurred 20.84 billion rupiah ($1.48 million) in losses to the state during that period.
The KPK also alleges that Darwan steered the contract for the project to developer PT Swa Karya Jaya, in exchange for the company backing his 2003 election bid. “It’s believed that the director at PT SKJ is a close friend of [Darwan’s],” Febri Diansyah, a spokesman for the KPK, told reporters in Jakarta on Oct. 14.
Febri said the decision to charge Darwan was made after investigators questioned 32 witnesses and raided his home in Jakarta. The KPK has also applied for a travel ban to prevent Darwan leaving the country.
Environmental activists have called on the agency to expand its investigation and root out other individuals involved in the project. “The KPK must also go after those that benefited from this project,” said Zenzi Suhadi, the head of advocacy at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).
Zenzi added that this case could also be a stepping stone to probe other, more serious corruption allegations against Darwan.
The politician was the subject of an extensive investigative report by Mongabay and the Gecko Project in 2017. Part of the award-winning “Indonesia for Sale” series, the report uncovered how Darwan, while head of Seruyan district, presided over an elaborate scheme to use shell companies as vehicles for selling oil palm plantation permits to firms owned by the billionaire Kuok and Rachmat families for millions of dollars.
The scheme threatened to turn the southern reaches of Seruyan into a sea of oil palm. Local activists reported Darwan to the KPK in this case, and the agency investigated him but never pressed charges.
Below is a promotional video from the Segintung seaport agency in Seruyan district.
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