Investigation Exposes Korindo’s Illegality, Rights Abuses and Rainforest Destruction

By Hana Heineken

In-depth investigations into the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo Group have produced two reports documenting sweeping evidence of illegality, environmental destruction and community rights violations and links to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Korindo’s expansion into Indonesia’s frontier forests has involved primary forest clearance, burning, land grabbing and arbitrary arrest of local people, resulting in unsustainable and likely illegal timber used for the construction of iconic Tokyo 2020 Olympic venues.

Indonesian and Japanese Banks Implicated in Financing Korindo’s Illegal Deforestation and Rights Abuses; Tokyo 2020 Olympics Caught Sourcing Tainted Wood


Perilous: Korindo, Land Grabbing and Banks

This report focuses on Korindo and its financiers, including Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), detailing how Korindo’s logging and oil palm operations in North Maluku Province have:

  • Obtained permits in clear violation of Indonesian laws;
  • Destroyed community farms and forests without consent of landowners;
  • Misrepresented community support for its plantation project;
  • Used fire to clear land, against Indonesian law;
  • Engaged police who have harassed and mistreated local community members.

Analysis of the broader Korindo group also raises red flags regarding its corporate governance, including:

  • Providing false financial statements in violation of Singaporean law;
  • Systematic failure to prepare financial statements, in violation of Singaporean law;
  • Use of convoluted corporate structures thereby concealing or obscuring ownership of subsidiaries.


Broken Promises: A case study on how the Tokyo 2020 Games and Japanese financiers are fueling land-grabbing and rainforest destruction in Indonesia

This report details how Olympic authorities have violated their pledge to host a sustainable Olympics in 2020 and must strengthen their own Timber Sourcing Code. Investigators found Korindo wood used in the construction of Olympic venues from the same mill linked to destruction of orangutan habitat and large-scale conversion of tropical rainforests. Korindo also likely supplied wood from North Maluku to the Olympics.

These reckless practices are being facilitated by Japan’s big banks, notably Tokyo 2020 Gold Sponsor bank SMBC Group, which was a financier of Korindo as recently as 2017.

North Maluku: Defending Indonesia’s Frontier Forests

Indonesia’s remote Eastern Province of North Maluku is rich in endemic flora and fauna, including spices like nutmeg, mace and cloves. Unlike many other Indonesian provinces it has not yet experienced high levels of deforestation. Korindo is trying to change that and threatens to open the floodgates of land grabbing and deforestation for oil palm in North Maluku.

A Message From Indonesia’s Frontier Forest Defenders

North Maluku’s Gane communities are the legitimate rights holders of much of the land Korindo is attempting to grab. Today, the Gane community manage their farmlands as their primary source of income through small-scale crops including cloves, nutmeg and coconut (copra), while protecting vast swathes of forests in the process. Korindo’s logging and oil palm project has been met with community blockades attempting to stop the company from razing their farms and forests. Hear from two local forest defenders below.

Video: Forest Defenders vs. Korindo


Police brutality in the rainforest timber supply chain
(view in Japanese)


Images: From the Field, From the People
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