Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Ministry demands prosecution of tycoon Soedono Salim

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Forestry and Plantations has called on the Attorney General's Office to prosecute the country's number one tycoon, Soedono Salim, over alleged illegal land appropriation.

Soeripto, the ministry's secretary-general, said on Friday that the ministry had reported to the Attorney General's Office the violations allegedly committed by Salim in appropriating land in Riau province, including on Bintan island, during the era of former president Soeharto.

"Now there are seven prosecutors at the Ministry of Forestry and Plantations (to follow up on the report)," Soeripto was quoted by Antara as saying in the provincial capital of Pekanbaru.

He said Soedono, also known as Liem Sioe Liong, had controlled land in the province due to his closeness to Soeharto.

The companies that control the land now face problems with the local residents who demand rights to the land, he said.

"We are now concentrating on Liem Sioe Liong's cases," Soeripto said.

However, he did not provide details on the land controlled by the Salim Group in the province.

Salim, who was billed as one of the world's richest men for many years prior to the economic crisis, had prominence in the country's business sector for several decades during Soeharto's era.

His multibillion-dollar business empire ranged from Bank Central Asia (BCA), the country's largest bank in the banking sector, to food producer PT Indofood Sukses Makmur and giant cement manufacturer PT Indocement.

The group expanded its business to many countries in the region, including mainland China, through Hong Kong-based First Pacific Group, Singapore-based Kabila Mandiri Persada and the Dutch firm Hagemeyer NV.

Overseas Chinese Business Networks in Asia, published by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1995, said Salim controlled 7,000 hectares of land around Jakarta, the 500- hectare site of Batam Industrial Park on Batam island, Riau, and the 4,000-hectare site of Bintan Industrial Estate on Bintan island, also in Riau.

The book says the Batam Industrial Park is a joint venture between the Salim Group and Singapore government-linked Jurong Environmental Engineering Pte Ltd. and government-linked Singapore Technologies.

The Bintan Industrial Complex is owned by Salim together with Jurong and government-linked Singapore Technologies Industrial Corporation, the book says.

According to the book, Salim, through Kabila Mandiri Persada, also controls Bulan island, also in Riau, where he established a pig farm operation to cater to pork consumers in Singapore.