Crown Resorts May Have Fed Indonesian Governor’s Illegal Gambling Habit

The governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, Lukas Enembe, continues to be the focus of a criminal investigation for alleged embezzlement, and more information is coming to light. It now seems, according to local media, that he may have gambled away government funds at a Crown Resorts property in Australia.

Lukas Enembe
Lukas Enembe
Lukas Enembe, the governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, speaks with reporters last year. He faces accusations that he stole government funds to gamble, some of which he may have spent at Crown Resorts’ Crown Perth in Australia. (Image: Antara)

Enembe has been in the spotlight since 2021 after someone tipped off Indonesia’s  Corruption Eradication Commission that he was pilfering funds. Since then, accusations have surfaced that he led a life of gambling and lavish spending.

Among the accusations, Enembe reportedly sent at least $3.5 million to an online casino and spent $39K on a watch. Australia’s ABC News reports that investigators are now targeting Crown Casino in Perth and “suspicious” bank deposits that showed up at two Australian banks.

Leaving Beyond His Means

There’s nothing wrong with blowing $3.5 million gambling, except that Enembe’s annual salary is only around $7,764. Authorities said they’ve traced $36.2 million the governor has allegedly taken since 2017, which he then spent to fuel his lifestyle. Officials say they believe that he actually embezzled “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Investigators accuse Enembe of using funds that were part of a special autonomy account for Papua. They suspect he used different bank accounts, including those of his children, to mask his activity and to try and hide the money trails.

His plan, if confirmed, didn’t work. The country’s Centre for Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis (PPATK) identified the destination of some of the transactions. Among these are questionable deposits at Crown’s Perth Casino. Enembe allegedly used the money to gamble and to cover other expenses at the venue.

There is reportedly video footage at various casinos that show him gambling. Another media outlet, Tempo Magazine, claims that a bank manager in Papua also rented a private jet for Enembe worth $50K. That was for a trip he took to Brisbane on July 10, returning to Indonesia four days later.

Attempts to get the governor to respond to the allegations officially have not been successful. The Anti-Corruption Commission has called him twice to appear, but he has refused both times. He argues that he is in poor health and cannot leave his home.

Sitting on a Gold Mine

Enembe has repeatedly claimed that he came into his wealth honestly. He asserts that he owns a gold mine in Papua, and that is where he gets his money.

He hasn’t backed up his claim on paper. In addition, no one in Papua can find any records of the ownership. The chairman of the province’s mining community, Dolpinus Weya, has gone on record saying that Enembe’s story is “untrue” and is only an attempt to “cover up the corruption case.”

In the meantime, authorities can only wait to try to bring the case to an end. While he stays behind the gates of his protected home, a mob of supporters guard the entrance. They refuse to let anyone get close in order to carry out what they call a “political witch hunt.”

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