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BML rebuts ACC allegations of involvement in MMPRC scandal

Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 July 2019, MVT 08:47
Bank of Maldives Ltd head office in Male' City. FILE PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 July 2019, MVT 08:47

Bank of Maldives Ltd (BML) on Wednesday night denied allegations made by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that the bank's employees were involved in the graft scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

The main bank of Maldives issued a statement following ACC's comments during a meeting Tuesday with the parliamentary Committee on Public Finance. The graft watchdog expressed suspicions that BML staff were involved in the MMPRC scandal and revealed that statements were taken from over 30 bank employees for the investigation.

ACC's President Muavviz Rasheed stated at the meeting that their investigations so far indicated that BML had deposited MMPRC funds into the accounts of SOF, a private firm implicated in the scandal, in violation of bank policy. According to Muavviz, BML had cleared cheques for SOF before they were endorsed.

BML refuted the accusation, stating, "The cheques issued to MMPRC and deposited to SOF accounts were endorsed cheques presented to the Bank. These cheques were deposited in compliance with the law, specifically the Negotiable Instruments Act 16/95, which the Bank of Maldives and all banks operating in the country conform to".

In its statement, the bank strongly condemned ACC's remarks, noting that they were made ahead of the conclusion of an ongoing case. Describing the comments as unfounded allegations, BML stated that such accusations could undermine the bank's plans and have negative impacts on BML's reputation with international correspondent banks on whom businesses and people relied for payments and trade.

BML asserted that it has a strong governance framework supported by robust policies and procedures that take relevant laws and regulations into account, and follows international best practices. The bank further stated that strong internal controls are in place to ensure that employees operated within the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

"The Bank has never and will never support financial irregularities of any form. In relation to the ongoing MMPRC case, the Bank’s internal audits as well as the audits undertaken by MMA and the Financial Intelligence Unit verified that the Bank had fully complied with its legal and regulatory obligations as prescribed under the law. The reports did not find any wrongdoing or involvement of any of our staff".

The bank assured that it will continue to work closely with authorities and provide full support and cooperation to the MMPRC investigation, adding that it looked forward to the swift conclusion of the case and to be cleared of the allegations.

ACC had previously made the same accusations against BML. The bank had refuted the allegations at that time as well.

The MMPRC graft scandal is the largest corruption case to rock the Maldives in history, which saw the embezzlement of MVR 1.3 billion state funds, acquired via island and lagoon lease for tourism purposes, embezzled through the corporation.

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