British man murdered in Bali on order of his wife had marriage problem: Report

Security guards stand at the front gate of Emerald Villas in Sanur on Bali island on Oct 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Security guards stand at the front gate of Emerald Villas in Sanur on Bali island on Oct 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BALI - The British man whose Indonesian wife had ordered his killing in Bali had been trying to get out of his marriage, sources say, adding that the man's extensive businesses in Indonesia were all registered in his wife's name.

Robert Kelvin Ellis, 60, who also had Australian citizenship, and his wife Julaikah Noor Aini had been having trouble for more than a year, a friend told Fairfax Media.

"He told us that things were just not working with him and Noor. Privately he said he was desperately trying to get Indonesian citizenship, because absolutely everything, all the businesses, were in Noor's name,'' the friend, who was unnamed, was quoted as saying.

In Indonesia, non-citizens cannot own property or businesses and must have an Indonesian nominee, according to the Fairfax Media report.

The friend also reportedly said the wife had extensive connections in Bali, including with the underworld, without which it is very difficult to do business in the country.

Another friend Ross Taylor was quoted as saying that he had spoken to Ellis frequently in recent times over a new business venture - a seafood-processing facility in Sulawesi. He said Ellis spent most of his week in Jakarta with his core business, which was supplying telecommunications infrastructure to Indonesia's big providers.

"It was a very successful business, he had done very well, but he was also involved in other ventures, diverse activities," Taylor said.

"He was very very hard in business, but to a close friend he is extremely generous, decent.''

His wife was "very hard-nosed, Chinese, business-orientated woman, but on a personal level, a good lady,'' Taylor was quoted as saying.

Ellis also owned six pieces of land on Christmas Island which a daughter from his first marriage was helping to manage, Fairfax Media reported. He also had a son from that marriage.

He and his Indonesian wife were reported to have two sons, Jon and Peter, who are studying in Perth's Edith Cowan University. The children said they were "completely devastated'', according to Fairfax Media.

'"The circumstances surrounding the death of our father is something we are still trying to come to terms with at this moment," they said. 'We do ask for people to understand our need for privacy at this extremely difficult and sad time for us."

The body of Ellis was found wrapped in plastic and dumped in a ditch in the rice field near Sedang Village on Tuesday.

His wife went to the police to report her husband missing soon after the body was found, but she was later detained and named a suspect in the case, AFP reported.

"Our suspicion towards the wife of the victim was first aroused when some of the victim's friends said there have been problems between the couple for a while," detective Wisnu Wardana said. "After talking to her slowly and kindly for a while, she finally admitted it."

She was in the house at the time of the killing but told police that she was in her room when it took place, AFP quoted Wardana as saying.

The boyfriend of a housemaid had carried out the killing, police said. The maid had admitted the killing took place in the kitchen between Sunday evening and Monday morning, they said.

The wife, two maids and the boyfriend were in police custody, while four friends of the alleged murderer suspected of involvement were being pursued by police.