18 February 2019
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih suspended Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and State Minister for Infrastructure Akram Kamaludeen who accepted money from SOF Private Limited, a company allegedly used to siphon cash from the islands’ tourism board. The two were named in the lengthy report released by the anti-corruption commission. Parliamentary election is due to be held on April 6, and corruption is likely to dominate campaigning. Presently Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party lacks a parliamentary majority. A good showing in the coming election is vital to his plan to investigate a series of huge deals with China that his party claims were awarded at inflated prices. Channel News Asia reported.
17 February 2019.
The anti-corruption commission released a 776-page report on Thursday. The report exposed politicians, prominent businesses and top government officials who conducted transactions with SOF Pvt Ltd, a company that was used to funnel US$90 million from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
On Thursday night, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih questioned why it took the ACC nearly three years to release the report after the probe was concluded in July 2017.
A former state attorney Mariyam Shunana said that the report was prepared by the people who were suspected of involvement in the corruption. She organised a protest in which hundreds of Maldivians marched along the streets of Male’ the capital of Maldives. The protesters called for the removal of the commission’s five members.
Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim pointed out that the report failed to reveal the names of the names of several beneficiaries. He said that the information he gave ant-corruption commission about lawmakers and senior state officials who were bribed by Adeeb was hidden from the report. He also said that the commission has hidden the names of the family members of the commission who were involved in the corruption.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim called on the ACC to reveal the identities of people who received cash from SOF. It is to be noted that his Villa Travels received US$700,000 from SOF, ostensibly in a money exchange transaction.
Former chief justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain also criticised the report as incomplete and of low quality. A witness statement in the report suggested that MVR10 million from the stolen funds was used to bribe MPs to remove the former chief justice in December 2014.
Transparency Maldives called on the government to compensate whistle-blower Gasim Abdul Kareem, a former manager at the Bank of Maldives who was jailed for eight months for leaking SOF’s bank statement. The anti-corruption NGO called the government to expunge the whistle-blower’s criminal record. The whistle-blower Gasim Abdul Kareem, a former manager at the Bank of Maldives was jailed for eight months for leaking SOF’s bank statement. Transparency Maldives called on the government to compensate Gasim Abdul Kareem. Transparency Maldives called for action to be taken against senior officials in the central bank, Bank of Maldives, Maldives Islamic Bank and MMPRC who facilitated, aided, or were negligent in this act.
A police media official confirmed on Sunday that ACC president Hassan Luthfy is under investigation over suspected money laundering. But he declined to reveal any details.
Mihaaru reported that former president Yameen’s statement taken for the ACC report would be inadmissible in court. According to the newspaper, the ACC sent questions and accepted answers in writing. Yameen was not pressed about authorising the MMPRC’s resort leases.
ACC president Luthfy’s integrity and independence were also called into question last May over leaked statements in which he admitted to having warned Justice Ali Hameed and the chief judicial administrator “not to do anything against the government.” He was among several heads of independent institutions who were awarded luxury flats at discounted prices in early 2015. Maldives Independent reported.