By Paul Newman
Potential investors should steer clear of a US$90 million initial public offering (IPO) in an Indonesian palm oil company due to the involvement of a former illegal logging kingpin and the potential impact on precious orangutan habitat, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) warned today.
The company, Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS), currently holds a land bank of 78,000 hectares in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan and is seeking investment to expand its palm oil plantation area through an IPO on the Jakarta stock exchange scheduled for today (December 12).
The founder of SSMS is Abdul Rasyid, who currently controls all of the shares in the company through family members. Rasyid has a track record of forest crimes in Central Kalimantan stretching back to the late 1990s; in 2000 he was named by the Indonesian Government as one of the top 18 illegal logging bosses in the country.
EIA first documented Rasyid’s illegal logging activities in 1999, tracking valuable logs stolen from Tanjung Puting National Park to sawmills owned by his Tanjung Lingga Group of companies.
On a follow-up investigation in early 2000, an EIA staff member and her Indonesian colleague were abducted and assaulted at gunpoint by Tanjung Lingga staff.
In 2001, three cargo ships carrying 25,000 cubic metres of illegal logs were intercepted by the Indonesian navy off the coast of Central Kalimantan. Investigations revealed that the logs were owned by Tanjung Lingga subsidiaries. In 2003 another shipment of illegal logs linked to Tanjung Lingga was detained in Vietnam.
EIA Campaign Director Julian Newman said: “Rasyid has tried to airbrush out his past as a major illegal logging boss and is now seeking respectability to expand his palm oil business. He made his first fortune through massive timber theft and is seeking to grow his wealth through further destruction of Central Kalimantan’s dwindling forests.“ More....