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Nihan's case on MMPRC scandal involvement forwarded to PG

Mariyam Malsa
17 December 2020, MVT 11:35
Former lawmaker and PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
17 December 2020, MVT 11:35

Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, on Wednesday, revealed that former lawmaker Ahmed Nihan's case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General's Office, with charges sought over his involvement in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) scandal.

Speaking to local media outlet Mihaaru, Shameem stated that the case pertaining to the previous parliamentary group leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was sent on Monday, following the completion of the investigation.

The former MP is accused of accepting bribes during the money laundering that occurred in the MVR 4 billion corruption scandal.

The Prosecutor General assured that the case would not remain pending for an extended period of time and added that efforts were already underway with regard to certain procedures which must be completed before charges can be raised.

Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery jointly investigated Nihan as one of the 30 prioritised suspects in the MMPRC scandal, along with the Maldives Police Service and the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

As part of its investigation, the asset recovery commission summoned Nihan and some of his family members for questioning. Reportedly, the commission inquired on some of Nihan's valuable assets and collected banking records.

While legal proceedings are in motion concerning his involvement in the MMPRC embezzlement scandal, the court withheld Nihan's passport on Monday, after the police alleged that he was trying to flee the country.

The largest corruption case recorded in Maldives' history, the MMPRC scandal, involved the embezzlement of MVR 4 billion in state funds, which were acquired through leasing islands and lagoons for tourism development and siphoned by private company, SOF Pvt Ltd.

Initial reports by ACC stated that 155 individuals had benefitted from the MMPRC graft -- a number that later increased to 267.

Authorities confirm that the 300 or so suspected individuals include high-ranking officials from the incumbent and past administrations, in addition to parliament representatives, judges, members of independent bodies and officers of law enforcement.

President of the asset recovery commission Ahmed As'ad previously revealed that the commission lacked the capacity and human resources to investigate 300 suspects all at once.

Therefore, he stated that the commission was conducting the probe in batches, prioritising the investigation of certain individuals based on the amount of embezzled funds linked to them, the evidence gathered by authorities, and the influence of their positions.

Till date, only ex-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and previous MMPRC Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath were convicted over their involvement in the MMPRC scandal. Yameen is currently serving five years in jail, along with a fine amounting to USD 5 million, while Adeeb is serving a 20-year prison sentence with a fine of MVR 2 million and Ziyath is serving 11 years in prison.