The management of First Travel, an Indonesian travel agency that offers low-cost umrah packages, is suspected of having embezzled funds belonging to at least 35,000 clients.
“In total, there were 70,000 would-be pilgrims who have paid. But only 35,000 have embarked on umrah, while the agency has just given the remainder various reasons for them not having been able to depart until now,” Brig. Gen. Herry Rudolf Nahak, general crimes director at the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim), told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday (10/08).
Herry said First Travel president director Andika Surachman and his wife Anniesa Desvitasari Hasibuan, who is a well-known fashion designer and also a director of the company, have been arrested and are currently being detained for 20 days while the investigation continues.
The couple was arrested at the offices of the Ministry of Religious Affairs while they and their lawyer were trying to convince officials not to revoke their operating permit.
Herry said the agency offered clients promotional umrah packages costing Rp 14.3 million ($1,070) and VIP packages costing Rp 54 million.
He added that the investigation started when 13 staff members made reports to police after several clients complained that the money they entrusted to the agency had not been used to pay for their pilgrimages.