Hardaya Inti Plantation President Director Sentenced to 2 Years for Buol Corruption

Totok Lestiyo appears before the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Totok Lestiyo appears before the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

A panel of judges at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court sentenced the former president director of Hardaya Inti Plantation to two years in jail on Monday for his role in a plan to bribe a local politician into approving illegal land concessions in Central Sulawesi.

“We declare the defendant Totok Lestiyo convincingly guilty of conspiracy to commit corruption,” presiding judge Gusrizal said as he read out the verdict on Monday.

He is the latest executive of one of tycoon Siti Hartati Murdaya Poo’s palm oil companies to receive jail time over an attempt to payoff Amran Batalipu, the district head of Buol, Central Sulawesi, for access to larger tracts of land. Hartati, a close associate of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was sentenced to 32 months in prison in February. Hardaya Inti Plantation general manager Yani Anshori received am 18-month sentence while the company’s operational director Gondo Sudjono was jailed for one year.

Amran, the corrupt district head, received the harshest sentence, seven-and-a-half-years in prison for accepting bribes from Hartati and her associates.

The tycoon’s Cipta Cakra Murdaya more than tripled its land holdings in Central Sulawesi since 1996, with subsidiary Hardaya Inti Plantation growing to control 75,090 hectares of land by 2012. The company attempted to continue its expansion in the region, filing an official request for land concessions through another subsidiary, Sebuku Inti Plantation. When that application was denied, the company attempted to bribe its way into more land, meeting with Amran on April 15, 2012 at the Jakarta Fair.

Totok helped set up the meeting between Amran and Hartati, the court ruled. The district head asked for Rp 3 billion ($246,000) for 4,500 hectares of land. Hartati said she would only pay Rp 1 billion as a “campaign donation.” The funds were transferred to Amran’s account in June. The same month the district head authored a letter to the central government requesting concessions for Hartati’s company.

On June 20, Hartati’s people returned. They needed more land, Totok said, and were willing to pay Rp 2 billion for the contract. Six days later Yani and Gondo arrived with the money.

The KPK caught the pair handing the funds over to Amran. The district head fled the scene as his private security slammed their car into the antigraft investigators.

He was arrested a short time later.

Indonesia’s agricultural sector is rife will allegations of corruption, most centered on the involvement of local politicians — from district heads to governors — efforts to sell off large tracts of land to forest and palm oil companies. The government owns the rights to forests in Indonesia and is in charge of both their protection and their cultivation.

But post decentralization, the power of local officials, like Amran, has risen considerably, as has allegations of district-level corruption in resource-rich areas.