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PG charges ex-Islamic Minister Dr Ziyad over Zikra Mosque graft

Fathmath Shaahunaz
27 September 2020, MVT 14:14
Former Islamic Minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad Bagir speaks at a press conference. FILE PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
27 September 2020, MVT 14:14

The Prosecutor General's Office indicted the former Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dr Ahmed Ziyad Bagir, over the alleged corruption concerning the previous administration's agreement with SJ Construction to develop Zikra Mosque.

Dr Ziyad is charged with misuse of official authority under Section 513 (b) of the Penal Code, which states, "A person commits an offence if he: (1) uses or influences official authority in his capacity as a public official, (2) for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or for another person to which he is not entitled".

The offence is classified as a Class 4 felony, carrying a minimum sentence of a year, seven months and six days in jail.

Detailing the charges levied against the former Islamic Minister on Sunday, the PG Office stated that the project agreement incurred losses to the state, with MVR 30 million paid as equity to SJ Construction and the company gaining illicit benefits.

In addition to Bagir, Mohamedi Aabaadh Ibrahim Abdulla Saeed, the former head of the Islamic Ministry's Endowment Section, is also charged with misuse of official authority.

Saeed is accused of compiling a technical report on SJ Construction's proposal claiming that the company was the best choice of contractor for the project, despite the proposal lacking certain required information.

Moreover, the PG Office stated that they identified suspicions concerning W&A Overseas PTE Ltd, which was involved in various stages of the agreement between the Islamic Ministry and SJ Construction. Thus, the Office advised the Anti Corruption Commission to request the police to conduct criminal investigations into the firm and its leaders.

At present, the Singaporean company W&A Overseas PTE Ltd is contracted to develop the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) towers in the second phase of reclaimed suburb Hulhumale'.

The PG Office further urged the ACC to request a police investigation over SJ Construction receiving certain information that had not been publicised by the Islamic Ministry, which came to light from case documents.

SJ Construction was awarded the MVR 130 million project to develop the 10-storey 'Darul Zikra' mosque on a Contractor Finance model on July 9, 2018. The previous government paid MVR 30 million to the company in advance as equity.

However, the incumbent administration nullified the agreement after SJ Construction failed to complete the project within the allocated time frame. In response, SJ Construction filed a case against the state seeking compensation of MVR 141 million.

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