Mon, 18 Sep 2000

Judge vows objectivity when trying Bob Hasan graft case

JAKARTA (JP): Central Jakarta District Court chief Subardi said on Friday that despite the media attention, he would remain objective when handling the multimillion dollar graft trial of timber tycoon Muhamad "Bob" Hasan.

"It's just another graft case. It is of no concern to the panel of judges, which includes myself, what links he has with former president Soeharto," Subardi said on Friday.

"As far as I can see, the indictment is thorough. Let's see what happens in court."

Hasan is accused of causing the state US$75.62 million in losses and $168 million in losses to the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association.

The trial will begin next Wednesday at the Central Jakarta District Court.

Separately, defense lawyer Augustinus Hutajulu chose not to comment on the 52-page indictment.

"I'll fight to the best of my abilities, but you'll hear in court what I think of the indictment," Augustinus said on Friday.

The defendant, along with PT Mapindo Parama (MP) executive director Asmaning Tjipto Witnjoprajitno, MP deputy chairman Tahir and MP director Herman Hidayat, allegedly enriched himself through PT Mapindo Parama, which reportedly caused losses to the state.

The defendant is charged with violating Paragraph 1a of Article 1 of the 1971 Anticorruption Law for enriching himself at the state's expense. The article carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, with or without a Rp 30 million fine.

The defendant, who was head of the Association of Indonesian Forest Concessionaires (APHI) from 1989 to 1998, knew that APHI statutes guaranteed all APHI members the right to participate in APHI's decision-making process.

However, on April 27, 1989, without calling an executive board meeting, Hasan, as head of APHI, allegedly signed an agreement -- No. 075/8/APHI/Pusat/0489 -- with the president of PT Adikarto Printindo (AP), Bambang Riyadi Sugomo, granting PT AP a mapping project.

The project involved the taking of aerial photographs of forest concessions belonging to 599 companies holding forest utilization licenses (HPH).

After signing the agreement, the defendant called an executive board meeting on May 1, 1989 -- in which only nine, excluding himself, out of 17 executives were present -- and decided that the mapping project should go to PT AP. The defendant signed for the five absent executives.

The defendant allegedly signed a work agreement with PT AP president Bambang on the condition that he be made a shareholder of PT AP.

On May 1, 1989, the defendant became a shareholder of PT AP and bought Rp 1.020 billion worth of shares, making him the company's major shareholder. He later took over full ownership of the company.

According to the indictment, once the defendant owned PT AP, he changed its name to PT Mapindo Parama (MP) on Feb. 18, 1991. He did not update the initial work agreement he signed with Bambang, in which the company name was still PT Adikarto Printindo.

As APHI chief, the defendant and APHI deputy chief, Tahir, approved the transfer of $12.95 million from APHI to the bank account of PT MP, as payment for the mapping project.

The first two transfer of funds were made to an account at Bank Umum Nasional (BUN), on Jan. 2, 1995 and Jan. 25, 1995, despite the fact that the agreement was made with PT Adikarto Printindo, not PT Mapindo Parama.

Between 1991 and 1998, Asmaning and Tahir agreed to transfer $134.075 million from APHI to three different accounts, as payment for the mapping project, belonging to PT MP.

The project involved the mapping and shooting of aerial photographs of 88.63 million hectares of forest concessions, belonging to 599 concessionaires.

However, the permit issued by the Ministry of Forestry was for the mapping and shooting of aerial photographs for concessions belonging to only 81 of the 599 companies, or 8.85 million hectares of forest concessions.

The indictment says that despite the payments made to PT MP, the defendant did not hand over the aerial photographs or the maps drawn in the project to the remaining 518 companies with HPHs.

The indictment states that, as the major shareholder of PT AP, which later became PT MP, it was the defendant's duty to make sure permits were arranged for the mapping project, involving all 599 companies, as according to agreement No. 075/8/APHI/Pusat/0489.

The photo laboratory of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), however, reportedly found "technical deviations" in the photographing and mapping of 8.85 million hectares of forest concessions as the photographs include those of protected forests.

The defendant reportedly ordered PT AP director, Boediono, and PT AP general manager, Herman Hidayat, to make sure that aerial photographs of the protected forests were taken as well.

The deal including the mapping of protected forests, numbered 1856/2-UM/1996 and dated July 31, 1996, was signed by Herman Hidayat and secretary-general of the Ministry of Forestry, Oetomo.

Upon the signing of the deal, the Ministry of Forestry apparently disbursed $87 million as payment for the project, which was taken from the reforestation fund.

Payments to PT MP were reportedly made on Oct. 1, 1996, May 12, 1997, Oct. 1997, Feb. 17, 1998 and Aug. 3, 1998. (ylt)