Jakarta (ANTARA) - Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin clarified about Rp70 million gratuity allegedly accepted from Haris Hasanuddin as noted in the indictment for the former head of Religious Affairs Ministry's East Java Office read out at the May-29 trial at the Jakarta Corruption Court.

Saifuddin, in a written statement received in Jakarta on Tuesday, has vehemently refuted the news.

"During a working visit to Surabaya on March 1, 2019, me as well as the accompanying aide and protocol officers never received any form of gifts from Haris, let alone giving in the form of cash," Saifuddin remarked.

"At that time, no special meeting was also held with Haris. I just went to the hotel transit room along with several employees from the Office around 10 minutes before the event began. From there, I immediately filled in. After the event, I left the hotel at once," he revealed.

Saifuddin admitted to Hasanuddin giving Rp10 million in cash rather than Rp20 million on March 9, 2019, in Tebu Ireng, Jombang to his aide.

Saifuddin explained that the purpose and objective behind Hasanuddin giving the money was also ambiguous. When the religion minister's aide asked Hasanuddin the reason behind giving the amount, he simply replied that it was "an additional honorarium." The amount was also delivered by the adjutant to the religion minister after arriving in Jakarta.

"Hence, since the start, I was unaware of any money being given," he emphasized.

When the aide reported about the money to the religion minister, he declined to accept it since he felt in no way entitled to receive it, for he did not have any events held by the Ministry's East Java Office.

"I have urged the aide to return back the money to Haris. However, since the aide was unable to directly meet with Haris, the money was handed back to me by the aide on March 22, 2019, and still in safe keeping," he remarked.

"Finally, the money was reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission on March 26, 2019. Reporting about the Rp10 million to the anti-graft body was a form of my commitment to foil acts of gratuity," he emphasized.

Translator: Eliswan Azly
Editor: Sri Haryati
Copyright © ANTARA 2019