Jakarta – Papua Governor Lukas Enembe provided no denial of Monday's revelations by law enforcement authorities that he has spent at least Rp 560 billion ($39 million) on casino gambling since 2017.
An attorney for Lukas, who was named a corruption suspect last week, told Detik news website that the governor is a wealthy person and suggested that he can do anything he wants with his own money.
"He is a rich man. He has natural resources and gold. Why are the suspicions?" lawyer Aloysius Renwarin said.
The lawyer went on to say that Lukas has been for decades serving in public offices in Papua, representing a district with the biggest gold deposit.
"For the last 20 years, he has been serving his homeland where the biggest gold deposit is located in his district, in his place of birth," Aloysius said.
However, Stefanus Roy Rening, the head of the defense team, declined to comment on the governor's alleged expensive gambling habit. Instead, he accused the government of launching a smear campaign with the revelations of the governor's lavish lifestyle.
"We don't want to discuss anything beyond the investigation, because we are defending the Papua governor against a suspected bribery allegation," Stefanus was quoted by Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu as saying.
"We cannot comment on other things which don't become the subject of the ongoing investigation."
He criticized Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud for holding Monday's joint conference on the ongoing legal case with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) at his office in Jakarta.
"It means the KPK is no longer an independent agency because it has been intervened by government influence," Stefanus said. "With all due respect, I ask Mr. Mahfud to stop doing this."
The KPK accuses Lukas of accepting Rp 1 billion in bribe money but the commission has failed to interrogate the governor in person since last week.
His attorneys said Lukas is undergoing medical treatment and he needs to consult regularly with doctors in Singapore and the Philippines.
During Monday's news conference, the PPATK said Lukas has made payments totaling 55 million Singapore dollars (US$39 million) to overseas casinos since 2017 after they analyzed the governor's financial records at the request of the KPK.
The anti-money laundering agency also said that at one point, Lukas spent 5 million Singapore dollars in a single casino payment. It also said that Lukas once spent 55,000 Singapore dollars on a watch.
The agency said it has frozen accounts worth more than Rp 71 billion belonging to a son of Lukas in 11 financial service institutions including banks and insurance companies.
The KPK is investigating if the governor's gambling spending costs taxpayers.
Mahfud told the conference that the graft case against Lukas, a Democratic Party politician, is purely a legal matter and has nothing to do with politics.