Indonesian minister admits to accepting $40,600 from Saudi Arabia

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin gestures to the press after being questioned by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta on April 5.
PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has admitted to accepting US$30,000 (S$40,600) from Saudi Arabia and not reporting it to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

"A committee from the international Musabaqah Tilawatil Quran [MTQ] gave the money to me. The money came from the sultanate, which handed it over through its religious attache, because the royal family routinely holds an international [Quran reading competition] hosted by Indonesia," Lukman said at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Wednesday as quoted by Antara.

Lukman made the statement while testifying as a witness against two defendants, East Java Religious Affairs Agency head Haris Hasanuddin and Gresik Religious Affairs Agency head M.Muafaq Wirahadi.

Both of them are accused of bribing M. Romahurmuziy, the former chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), for promotions at the ministry. The KPK seized US$30,000 from Lukman's office during a raid connected to the bribery case.

Lukman said he received the money as a gift from Syeh Saad An Namasi, head of Saudi Arabia Embassy's religious attache office in Indonesia in 2018, and also from Syeh Ibrahim Sulaiman al-Nughomsy, a former head of the religious attache office, for holding the festival.

Lukman claimed he had rejected the money but An Namasi insisted that he accept it and use it for social purposes.

"I have stored the money for more than three months. I even forgot the money was still stored," he said.

The 2002 KPK Law stipulates that public officials must report any items it accepts to the antigraft body within 30 days.