Maldives Police Service launched investigations into leaked audio clips of Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed allegedly making derogatory remarks about certain Cabinet ministers.
The audio clips, the first of which were leaked on Saturday night, depict Waheed, allegedly, in a conversation with an individual believed to be State Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Assad Ali (Adubarey), who is a close friend of the tourism minister.
In the audio clips, "Waheed" makes highly disparaging statements, using obscene language, about fellow Cabinet members, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, Minister of Education Dr Aishath Ali, and Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen. One of the clips also features a conversation between Waheed and Assad on corruption.
According to local media Mihaaru, Police are probing into the clip containing statements about corruption.
Although Police stated that no cases were officially filed to the authorities over the audio leaks, the institution assured that they were working with relevant authorities to clarify necessary details as one of the clips depict criminal activity.
In the clips being circulated on social media, Assad spoke about the Supreme Court's Secretary-General getting in the way of procuring some vehicles for the court. However, he stated that the issue was taken care of with the help of Deputy Minister of Transportation and Civil Aviation Shimaz Ali (Shimatte).
Ali Waheed shouts profanities targeted at Police when Assad mentions that the procurement may be interfered with by making it a "police case". Ali Waheed also directs foul language at the Secretary-General of Supreme Court.
During the conversation, Assad discusses taking a cut of 800,000 from a deal. It is unclear whether the money in question is in USD or MVR.
In other leaked audio clips, Minister Waheed slammed Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen for trying to "take credit" by pulling off "media stunts" amidst the government's move to take preventive measures against the Coronavirus outbreak.
His comments regarding Transport Minister Aishath Nahula, who is the spouse of JP leader Qasim Ibrahim, drew the most scrutiny and criticism. One of the audio clips features a phone call made to Nahula where he conversed with her in an unseemly manner. At the end of the call, he proceeds to make derogatory statements about her.
Amidst the outcry that ensued following the leaks, the tourism minister took to Twitter twice defending himself. In his first Tweet, he stated that the audio clips were not legitimate, and that they were posted to defame him. Although Assad Ali also came to his defence, his Tweet saying that the clips were leaked over the upcoming Football Association of Maldives (FAM) elections revealed that the conversations between Waheed and Assad did take place.
Tourism Minister Waheed posted a second Tweet on Monday, claiming that the audios were modified falsifications. He called on the authorities to investigate him, maintaining that the truth would be revealed then.