KPK arrests Papua governor on bribery charges

Authorities have accused Lukas Enembe of granting contracts worth up to Rp 40 billion between 2019 and 2021, for construction projects to a company with an inexperienced track record in the sector.


Under investigation: Papua governor Lukas Enembe attends a dialogue held recently.( Akuntono)

January 11, 2023

JAKARTA – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested Papua’s governor on Tuesday in a corruption probe on suspicion of accepting bribes linked to infrastructure projects in the restive eastern province, officials said.

Authorities have accused Lukas Enembe, 55, of granting contracts — worth up to Rp 40 billion ($2.57 million) between 2019 and 2021 — for construction projects to a company with an inexperienced track record in the sector.

He was accused in September of accepting a bribe of one billion rupiah from the company but failed to respond to several summonses to Jakarta from anti-graft authorities, citing health reasons.

“It is true that today our investigators have arrested the suspect L. E. in Papua. Currently, he is on his way to Jakarta,” Ali Fikri, spokesman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) told AFP, using only the governor’s initials.

The politician was arrested in a restaurant on Tuesday morning, the spokesman said during a televised interview.

The lawyers of Lukas, an ethnic Papuan who has served as governor of the resource-rich province since 2013, have denied the allegations.

Local media published images of authorities taking him on to a plane after his arrest in Jayapura, Papua’s capital.

The poverty-stricken region receives ample central government funding but experts say much is lost to corruption and wasteful spending.

In September, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) said it obtained evidence Lukas made transactions in casinos abroad worth 560 billion rupiah.

The KPK said it is still investigating.

Footage from local news showed a scuffle between security and several people gathered outside the police station where Lukas was initially held. 

Some activists believe he is being targeted by the state for opposing the creation of new provinces in the Papua region, which critics fear could affect its indigenous population and threaten its special autonomy powers.

Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs Mahfud MD has said the probe into Lukas was not politically motivated.

Asked about Lukas’ arrest, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told local media the anti-graft agency “must already have their evidence”, adding “everybody is the same in the eyes of the law.”

In September, Mahfud said Lukas was allegedly involved in mismanaging funds and laundering “hundreds of billions” of rupiah, citing analyses from the state’s Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. 

Lukas has dismissed the allegation.

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