Sukanto Tanoto

Sukanto Tanoto is an Indonesian billionaire. He was named as Indonesian #6 richest by Forbes in 2011. Estimates worth  $2,800 M.

Many people know Sukanto Tanoto as the mysterious figure, cunning, and full of controversy. Born in Belawan, North Sumatra on December 25 1949, Sukanto known as the Timber Baron because of its ability to integrate forestry business under the flag Raja Garuda Mas (RGM). He is also known as the Limping Strong Man or Mr. Power of Medan, with plenty of clout. Mr. Sukanto acquired a reputation as a street-smart, tough tycoon. People tin Medan joked that only two Raja (Kings) in North Sumatra. First, Raja Inal Siregar (former governor of North Sumatra) and Raja Garuda Mas.

Sukanto Tanoto’s wife Tinah Bingei came from the Bingei Family in Binjai, North Sumatra which owns a cigarette company STTC (Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company) and Indo Cafe.

His business is mainly oil palm plantation, plywood, and pulp business.
He painted himself as a entrepreneur, visionary and pioneer of a number of industries in Indonesia. Also calling himself a philantropist building the Tanoto Foundation, with the “aim of educating and empowering marginalized members of the community so that they can improve their lives”

Sukanto Tanoto donated a chair position at Carnegie Mellon, the Tanoto Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Larry Pileggi) in 2011.
He also funded the Tanoto Professor of Diabetes Research at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Singapore) given to Dr. Karl Tryggvason, MD. Tanoto foundation also is known to give research money for diabetic researchat Duke-NUS. Even the PM of Singapore thanked him.
In 2005, He donated to the INSEAD library in Singapore, called Tanoto Library.

Well, is Sukanto Tanoto really that generous.

Don’t know about Professors  Larry Pileggi and Karl Tryggvason, they are associated with the guy who is responsible for destroying millions of hectares of Indonesian natural forests for oil palm and paper. These professors were funded by money gained from clearing the rain forests and processed into papers.

If you have seen Avatar, Tanoto is the destroyer of Pandora.

Businessmen in Indonesia know Sukanto as a tricky businessman. He made his wealth out of nothing, all thanks to his connection with former president Soeharto.

His plywood company started from taking down rain forests. Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (or APRIL) is well known for illegal logging from peatlands in Pekan Baru.
PT Inti Indorayon Utama, his pulp and mill company was built in Porsea nearby Lake Toba of North Sumatra famous for Illegal logging, and land grabbing, water pollution in Asahan River and released toxic chlorine gas during the 1993 boiler explosion.

While now APRIL set up an image as an environmental friendly paper, it is well known that in Indonesia that its paper all came from illegal logging of the natural forests. Although now it claimed all to be from sustainable plantation, the plantation is still being grown and does not have enough capacity to fill the paper’s quota. Also, claiming to used degraded land, all the plantation came from conversion of natural forests thanks to the connection with the Ministry of Forestry.
Subsidized land, virtually free wood, and low wages make it all too easy for Tanoto to be the king of pulp. See more in this book, a chapter by Larry Lohmann ‘Freedom to Plant’. Although the information is mostly correct, Larry made several mistakes in the name: calling it Riau Andalan, while it should be Riau Andalas. Larry also called Sukanto Tanoto as Harvard educated, but clearly not. APRIL is famous for producing Paper One, supplying to different countries.

It is recently analyzed that APRIL’s product is made up of 84 per cent tropical rainforest fibre, while it is labeled LEI (Indonesia Ecolabel Institute) accreditation scheme which ”ensures the paper meets the particular qualifications of a fair and sustainable forest management standard”Read more:

APRIL advertised itself as “the first forestry firm in Indonesia to meet the high standards set by the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute Criteria & Indicators for Sustainable Forest Plantation Management (PHTL). It continues to set environmental and sustainability benchmarks, and all of its plantations are certified ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. APRIL is a signatory to the UN Global Compact and is one of only two Asian members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). APRIL has also been a member of the Fire Management Actions Alliance coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United Nations.”

Clearly this is not happening, a 2011 Australia’s ABC program has showed how APRIL is paying a local official so they can illegally log peat forests in the Kampar

In an Interview with a Singaporean newspaper The Business Time, he said: “Trees take about 60 years to mature in the cold European climate, about 25 to 30 years on American soil, and only six to seven years in Indonesia.”

‘I always say that the Scandinavians grow trees for their grandchildren, Americans grow them for their children. Here in Indonesia, you grow trees for yourself,’ he says with a chuckle.

Don’t know where he get this logic from, in Indonesia it takes the same amount of time to grow tree as elsewhere. The Scandinavian make sure their grandchildren will still have tree, Americans make sure their children have tree, and in Indonesia bastard like Sukanto Tanoto make sure he got all the tree for himself and none left for his children and grandchildren.

Having said that, Tanoto is one of the few Indonesian that actually set up a philanthropy foundation. Compare this to Eka Tjipta Widjaja, another beast (Indonesian #3 wealthiest) who take all for himself. Beside a chair in Carnegie Mellon only costs Tanoto less than 0.01 percent of his wealth. A scholarship in Indonesia only costs him less than 0.0001 percent of his wealth. And he can claim tax break from Singaporean government as well.
Well, the latest news is the Supreme Court of Indonesia has ordered plantation conglomerate Asian Agri Group, part of billionaire Sukanto Tanoto’s Raja Garuda Mas International group, to pay Rp 2.52 trillion ($260 million) in back taxes and fines for tax embezzlement.


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