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Legal Populism in the Tin Case

Translator

TEMPO

Editor

Laila Afifa

2 May 2024 11:52 WIB

A view of a nickel mining site of Vale in Sorowako, South Sulawesi province, Indonesia, March 29, 2023. The Southeast Asian country, which has the largest nickel reserves in the world, will step up scrutiny of mining and order companies to manage nurseries to reforest depleted mines, said the president, who is widely known as Jokowi. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe Attorney General’s Office needs to focus on the main perpetrators of corruption in tin trading in Bangka Belitung. Avoid legal populism.

ROBERT Priantono Bonosusatya is close to the illegal mining in the Timah mining permit area in Bangka Belitung. The name of the tycoon cannot be separated from the alleged tin trading corruption currently being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). But although it has been some time since the investigation into the case began, Robert’s legal status is still that of a witness.

The AGO is still allowing Robert Bonosusatya to remain free despite questioning him for 13 hours on April 1. Investigators have only imposed the status of a suspect on Suparta and Reza Ardiansyah, respectively the chief executive officer (CEO) and business development director in 2015-2022 of Refined Bangka Tin, a company believed to be affiliated with Robert. The AGO stated its investigation of the case that reportedly cost the state Rp271 trillion is “only to find stronger evidence and complete the case file.”

Two other suspects, Harvey Moeis and Helena Lim, are believed to be close to Robert. The AGO has said that Harvey is the representative of Refined Bangka Tin who communicated with Timah CEO Mochtar Riza Pahlevi Tabrani from 2018 to 2019. He has also been named a suspect. Harvey reportedly has asked Riza to accommodate the illegal mining in Timah area. From this illegal activity, he allegedly received payments disguised as social assistance through a company led by Helena Lim.

Robert and his attorney have denied the alleged links with Refined Bangka Tin, although—by coincidence or not—he has the same initials: RBT. Robert is not listed as a shareholder on the company’s legal documentation, but the confusing facts in this case of alleged tin mining corruption clearly point towards the involvement of the tycoon, who is close to many senior police officers. Therefore, the AGO should not hesitate to further investigate Robert’s role.

The special connections between tycoons and senior law enforcement officials in a number of corruption cases in this country are already widely known. This type of businessperson enjoys special privileges when they or their businesses are faced with legal proceedings. Investigators come across significant obstacles when trying to take them to court. This is despite the fact that environmental crimes such as illegal mining in Bangka Belitung will clearly harm the country in the long term.

On Friday, April 26, the Attorney General’s Office named five new suspects from the regional government and smelter companies involved. There are now a total of 21 suspects in this case. The aims of enforcing the law, including preventing environmental crimes, would not be achieved if only technical perpetrators like them were taken to court. The AGO must be more serious in going after the main perpetrators.

The Attorney General’s Office should not play ‘legal populism.’ In this case, it is as if the public is being steered towards paying more attention to the huge value of the losses to the state and to the popular names involved. The suspect Harvey Moeis is better known as the husband of celebrity Sandra Dewi, who is attracting more attention from fans gossip. This kind of legal populism could be used to move the focus away from the involvement of the people who really should be held accountable.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine



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