The national antigraft agency detained Yesaya Sombuk, head of the Biak Numfor district in Papua province, on Monday night on allegations of bribery.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested Yesaya along with five other people in a Central Jakarta hotel.
“They are still being questioned intensively,” KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas said on Tuesday.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi said after receiving a tip, the KPK kept a businessman with the initials T.M. under surveillance. He led them to a meeting with the disaster mitigation agency head of Biak Numfor, who was only identified as Y., at the hotel’s restaurant.
After making contact, the two men reportedly proceeded to a room on the seventh floor, where Yesaya was staying.
Upon receiving confirmation that all three men were in the hotel room, the KPK investigators went into action.
A subsequent search of the room resulted in the discovery of a large bag containing envelopes filled with Singapore dollar bills.
The suspects, along with two driers and an assistant, were quickly ushered to KPK headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Investigators also confiscated a Mazda reportedly belonging to T.M.
Johan declined to comment on exactly how much money was confiscated during the operation, but according to an undisclosed source, Yesaya was believed to have accepted S$400,000 ($320,000) in kickbacks in connection to development programs for Biak’s underdeveloped areas.
Following Yesaya and his cohorts’ arrest, KPK investigators sealed several rooms at the Ministry for Underdeveloped Region Development (PDT).
“At the time [of the arrest], investigators also sealed [several offices] at the ministry. They were sealed, not searched,” Johan emphasized.
The KPK spokesperson claimed he was unsure of the connection between Yesaya’s arrest and the PDT ministry, saying only that the deputy PDT minister’s office on the second and fourth floors were among those barricaded by the members of the antigraft agency.
When asked whether KPK investigators had also restricted access to PDT Minister Helmy Faishal’s office, Johan again
declined to comment, saying he would, “check again later.”
Antigraft investigators said they plan to question all six detainees for the next 24 hours before finally deciding on their legal status.
“We only have preliminary information and [the suspects’] status are still in question. We have not reached a decisive conclusion. Let’s just wait for a few more hours,” Johan told the press.
Previously, members of Biak Numfor’s Communication Forum of Village Chiefs approached the KPK to report incidents of budget misappropriation that was allegedly committed by district officials.
One of these reported cases is allegedly connected to the misappropriation of some Rp 8.3 billion ($700,000) in assistance funds disbursed by the PDT ministry.
Johan said he was currently unable to confirm whether the case involving Yesaya, T.M. and Y. was in anyway related to the complaints made by the Communication Forum of the Village Heads, but conceded that Yesaya’s arrest had been the result
of information the KPK received from a member of the public.
KPK Investigators Detain Biak Numfor District Head