KPK raids ministry's office in land-conversion case
The Jakarta Post
Just one day after the Jakarta Corruption Court made a new revelation about the role of former Forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan in the graft-ridden land-conversion permit in Riau, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Tuesday raided his former office to collect more evidence on the involvement of the current People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker in another graft case.
Zulkifli of the National Mandate Party (PAN) has been in the spotlight for the illegal land-conversion permit issuance for a luxury housing project in Bogor, West Java, constructed by giant property firm PT Sentul City, during his time as a minister.
Former Bogor regent Rachmat Yasin has been found guilty of receiving Rp 4.5 billion (US$348,973) bribes from Sentul City president director Kwee Cahyadi Kumala, who is also president commissioner of the property firm PT Bukit Jonggol Asri (BJA), the major shareholder of Sentul City, in return for the permit.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi confirmed Tuesday's raid saying that KPK investigators searched a number of offices at the ministry from which they managed to confiscate important documents to build up the bribery case, in which
Cahyadi has also been named a suspect.
'Monday's raid was conducted to collect more evidence to complete the dossier in the Bogor case,' said Johan.
Johan refused to elaborate on specific evidence that the antigarft body was searching at the ministry, whose name was changed into the Environment and Forestry under President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's new administration.
Johan confided that one of the rooms searched by KPK investigators belonged to the ministry's director general for planology, Bambang Supijanto, who has also been grilled in the case. Prior to signing a land permit, a forestry minister must receive recommendation from Bambang's office.
'I have yet to receive detailed information from KPK investigators about the raid,' Johan added.
In the Bogor case, the KPK has also brought Zulkifli, who resigned from his position in September to be sworn in as lawmaker, to its headquarters for questioning to confirm his roles in the case. After the questioning, Zulkifli maintained his innocence.
After being questioned on Nov. 11, Bambang defended Zulkifli saying that the ministry had received a land-conversion proposal from BJA for nearly 3,000 hectares of forest area for housing projects in Bogor, but his boss rejected the request.
'[BJA's proposal] lacks the necessary requirements, such as land replacement for the to-be-converted land and a recommendation from the West Java governor,' Bambang said.
In addition, Zulkifli has also been at the center of the KPK's investigation with regard to the issuance of a land conversion permit for an oil palm plantation in Riau by the ministry in September, when he was still in power.
On Monday, KPK prosecutors at the Jakarta Corruption Court charged palm-oil businessman Gulat Manurung with bribing suspended Riau Governor Annas Maamun with $166,100 following the issuance of a ministerial decree by Zulkifli in August allowing the Riau administration to convert a forest area of 1,638,249 hectares in total into a non-forest area.
Prosecutors said that during a visit to Riau in August, Zulkifli, in a speech at the administration office, encouraged people in Riau to make proposals to the change the status of their land so that they could become part of the 1,638,249 hectares allowed by the ministry.
Gulat is currently standing trial on KPK allegations that the bribe money was given to Annas in order for him to include a total site of 1,188 hectares in Kuantan Singingi regency and 1,214 hectares in Rokan Hilir regency, belonging to Gulat and his other friends, in the land-conversion proposal that the 74-year-old governor submitted to Zulkli's office.
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