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Papua Officer Tied to Rp 1.5 Trillion From Fuel Smuggling and Illegal Logging

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

The Jakarta Globe
By Banjir Ambarita

Jayapura. Police in Papua have made a shocking revelation linking bank transactions totaling Rp 1.5 trillion ($154 million) to a low-ranking police officer suspected of massive fuel smuggling and illegal logging.

Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, the provincial police chief, said on Tuesday that the figure was based on a report from the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the government’s anti-money-laundering watchdog.

He was quick to add that the Rp 1.5 trillion was not the amount of money in the account belonging to the officer, identified as Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus, but that it was the accumulated value of transactions through the account from 2007 to 2012.

“Some of the transactions amounted to hundreds of millions of rupiah or even billions of rupiah at a time,” Tito said.

“As for the current balance in the account, that’s still being investigated.”

He added that police were investigating Labora, whose rank would entitle him to a monthly salary of no more than Rp 4 million, and that they had linked him to the smuggling of massive quantities of fuel.

“We’re looking into the alleged misuse of the fuel, which we suspect is the source of the money,” the police chief said.

“Our investigators have already seized 1,000 tons of fuel in Sorong district belonging to the officer.”

However, he said that Labora — based in West Papua’s Sorong

district, which falls under the Papua Police’s jurisdiction — had not been charged with any crime yet and was still being treated as a witness.

Speculation is rife that Labora oversaw a syndicate that siphoned fuel from tankers out at sea and brought it to shore to sell. Tito did not deny the possibility and said that investigators were still trying to confirm where the fuel came from.

Police have also seized an undisclosed quantity of timber linked to the officer, prompting suspicion that he was also involved in illegal logging.

“We’re still looking into that, but the initial data suggests that the timber was bought from local people,” Tito said.

Police have identified two companies linked to the fuel and the timber, but have yet to confirm that Labora was involved with either of them.

“If we can make that connection, then his legal status will be changed from witness to suspect,” Tito said.

A police source, who declined to be named, told the Jakarta Globe that police had identified 15 containers of timber that had arrived at Surabaya’s Tanjung Perak Port last week as belonging to Labora.

The source also claimed that Labora kicked most of the money up the provincial police’s chain of command, and was considered the biggest earner in the force for high-ranking officers before Tito took over as the provincial police chief last September from the now-retired Insp. Gen. Bigman Lumban Tobing.

Tempo.co quoted another police source saying that senior officers had been aware of Labora’s illegal activities for years and that he wielded control over the lush forested islands in the Raja Ampat archipelago, the alleged source of the timber.

This is not the first allegation of a police officer handling huge sums of money from illegal activity, but it is the first leveled against a low-ranking officer.

In June 2010, Tempo Magazine carried an in-depth report based on PPATK data indicating that 23 police generals and high-ranking officers were in possession of suspiciously large bank accounts.

Days after the story broke, unknown perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails at the Tempo office, and a group of assailants attacked an Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher who was involved in breaking the story. No arrests were made in either case, while the National Police cleared all the top officers of any wrongdoing.

Two police generals, Djoko Susilo and Didik Purnomo, the former head and deputy head, respectively, of the National Police’s traffic division, are currently in custody for massive bribery linked to the procurement of driving simulators.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has to date seized 41 assets linked to Djoko, including land, more than a dozen homes, four cars and six buses.

Djoko had reportedly registered the assets under the names of multiple family members and had amassed Rp 100 billion — a substantial amounnt for an official with a monthly salary of Rp 30 million.

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