28 July 2020
The presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery presented its official report to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday.
The commission revealed that, although the reports previously compiled by the Auditor General’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) indicated that over USD 77.5 million were siphoned through Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), the state suffered an actual loss of more USD 220 million in acquisition costs.
Ahmed As’ad, the President of the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery, attributed the considerable loss to MMPRC’s leasing of 37 islands to private parties at below-market prices.
As’ad revealed that the enquiry is taking long because the number of persons implicated in the scandal has now almost reached 300, and that this may increase in the future. Suspected persons include high-ranking officials from the incumbent and past administrations, members of parliament, judges, members of statutory bodies and law enforcement officers.
He added that names of the implicated suspects will be revealed as and when the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office presses charges. He said that there was a total failure of the system, as none of the criminal activities was flagged by any relevant institutions at that time.
Up to now, only former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has been convicted over involvement in the MMPRC scandal. He is currently serving five years in jail, along with a fine amounting to USD 5 million.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who was the tourism minister in Yameen’s administration at the time of the scandal, was previously convicted in connection with MMPRC. In a controversial move, the Criminal Court dropped all charges against Adeeb. However, the High Court has commenced the appeal against Adeeb and remanded him until the end of his trial.
The then managing director of MMPRC, Abdulla Ziyath, also faces criminal charges over the embezzlement. He is presently under house arrest while his trial is still ongoing.
Before he assumed office as Prosecutor General, Hussain Shameem, acted as lawyer for MMPRC Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath and ex-VP Ahmed Adeeb Mohamed Hussain. A complaint was submitted to the Bar Council that Shameem should have withdrawn from the hearings involving these two persons. He denied allegations of conflict of interest concerning the MMPRC saying that he had ended his involvement with the cases upon his appointment as PG.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) announced a 60-day suspension on Ismail Rasheed, the presiding Criminal Court judge over former vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s case. On July 14, the Criminal Court decided to drop all seven charges against Adeeb concerning the MMPRC embezzlement case.
JSC stated that the two-month suspension was imposed based on the nature of the case, the evidence submitted, potential impediments to the investigation as well as to maintain trust into the judicial system.
The Criminal Court decided to drop all charges against Adeeb on the grounds that the state had “wrongfully” entered a confessional agreement with the former VP. Adeeb claimed that he had signed the agreement in July 2020 in order to get permission to go abroad for medical treatment.
State prosecutors on Thursday, raised charges against Minister of State for Tourism Dr Ahmed Solih, over allegations of abuse of power, at the Criminal Court.
He was also implicated in the graft case of MMPRC.
The prosecution alleged that he abused his authority regarding the contract leasing of an island under investigation by the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery, as well as additional three lagoons.