(Corrects headline and first paragraph saying Chevron itself
By Fergus Jensen
JAKARTA May 8 Oil firm Chevron on
Wednesday criticised the sentencing of one of its Indonesian
subcontractors to five years in jail for breaching environmental
laws, citing irregularities in the investigation and trial. A
lawyer representing the subcontractor said he would file an
"The panel of judges has not made a fair and objective
review of the facts of the bioremediation project which have
been presented during the trial," Chevron spokesman Kurt
Glaubitz said in a statement sent to Reuters on Wednesday.
However, Indonesia's Attorney General's Office said it was
also not satisfied because "the verdict was different to the
"With the court verdict last night, the prosecution finds it
necessary to file an appeal," Untung Setia, a spokesman for the
Attorney General's Office told Reuters, declining to comment
further. "We'll see what happens."
Indonesia has faced mounting complaints from resource
companies and investors over regulatory uncertainty,
particularly after a court decision to dismantle its oil and gas
regulator late last year, throwing into question whether it will
be able to reverse declining output.
Chevron, Indonesia's largest oil producer, says the Green
Planet case sets a bad precedent by undermining terms in its
production-sharing contract and is among issues that could lead
to a reduction of its investment in Southeast Asia's largest
Indonesia has attracted substantial investment because of
its fast-growing economy and political stability but
institutional graft and rampant petty corruption, including in
its courts, are obstacles for businesses.
Three more similar verdicts are scheduled to be heard this
week and next.
The Jakarta Corruption Court handed down its verdict on
Tuesday night after an eight-hour hearing in a courtroom full of
Chevron supporters hoping charges against Ricksy Prematuri, the
manager of Green Planet, one of the subcontractors appointed to
carry out Chevron's bioremediation work, would be dropped.
Prematuri is among seven people the attorney general's
office said took money for the project in a cost-recovery
process for work that was allegedly not completed in accordance
with environmental regulations.
One of the issues questioned was whether Chevron's
contractors had a government permit to carry out the
"There was no proof that the project was fictive, just
allegations of an administrative breach where their permit had
not been extended," Chevron defence attorney Dasril said
referring to the verdict, adding that the company's permit
request had been ignored by the environment ministry.
Dasril said the company had obtained permission to carry out
its bioremediation project while the permit extension was being
processed. "This was stipulated in a letter from the deputy
Chevron says it has been concerned about irregularities in
the legal process since the attorney general's investigation
started in October 2011 and during the trial.
It said the defence team was given only four days during the
trial, but prosecutors were allowed four months to call many
witnesses, including one expert who it says had a conflict of
interest. It also said four of the accused were detained for 62
days before formal charges were lodged.
Oil and gas production has become politically sensitive in
Indonesia, with calls to nationalise company assets such as the
Mahakam block operated by Total, complaints about the
slow startup of the Cepu field run by ExxonMobil, and
warnings from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono not to be too
(Editing by Michael Perry)