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JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Indonesian plantation companies that grow the trees that become printer paper and tissue used in offices and homes from Asia to the U.S. have been accused of stealing village lands, clearing virgin forests and starting devastating fires in 2015 that hastened 100,000 deaths in Southeast Asia from air pollution.
Their main customer has for years distanced itself from responsibility, but an Associated Press investigation shows it has significant behind-the-scenes influence over the plantations.
Indonesia's Sinarmas — better known by its international trade name, Asia Pulp & Paper — has insisted in company publications, public events and to the media that most of the companies that supply it with wood are "independent," not owned by it or in other ways affiliated with it.