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Ex-VP Adeeb accepts all charges for "government-led" MMPRC "scam"

Shahudha Mohamed
01 October 2020, MVT 09:08
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, arriving for a hearing at the High Court. The ex-VP confessed to his involvement in the MMPRC scandal at a hearing at the Criminal Court and accepted all seven charges pressed against him by the state. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
01 October 2020, MVT 09:08

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, on Wednesday, accepted all seven charges pressed against him over the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) graft, which cost the state approximately MVR 4 billion in lost revenue.

The state charged Adeeb, who was the Minister of Tourism at the time, with two counts of embezzlement, two counts of money laundering, as well as exerting influence for illicit gains, exerting influence to earn illicit gains for another party, and abusing his official position.

Although the Criminal Court dropped the charges against Adeeb, on July 14, during the preliminary hearings, the High Court had later ordered the lower court to conduct a retrial into the ex-VP's case.

Pleading guilty

Confessing to the charges during Wednesday's hearing at the Criminal Court, Adeeb insisted that the funds lost in the graft must be recovered, in addition to reiterating his cooperation to the cause.

"[I request] for the most lenient sentence possible, based on [my] confession and the fact that I am initiating the retelling", he stated.

Recounting the details of the largest corruption scandal recorded in Maldivian history, for the first time in court, Adeeb described the graft as a "government-led scam" carried out under former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's instructions to fund the campaigns for the 18th Parliamentary elections.

According to Adeeb, the funds siphoned through MMPRC were also distributed amongst members of Parliament, the judiciary and independent watchdog bodies, in addition to ex-President Yameen.

"Former parliament members, former presidents and every political party benefited from the scandal".

The ex-VP also speculated that Yameen's orders were the reason behind the embezzled funds flowing through financial institutions without any snags.

Noting that all of his actions were in-line with the then-President's instructions, Adeeb, repeatedly alleged of masterminding the embezzlement, asserted that the entire scandal was pre-mediated by the then-government.

The ex-VP claimed that the former administration had not carried out efforts to investigate the scandal, and instead attempted to conclude the probe with "two-to-three suspects".

Adeeb highlighted that he had been cooperating with the investigation since last year, after he came to certain realisations during his time in jail.

"Now [in the present administration] all the institutions are held accountable. The former administration did not do that".

The seven implications

The state charged Adeeb with two counts of embezzlement for leasing islands and lagoons through MMPRC during his time as minister, and transferring the state funds generated from the deals to accounts of his choosing. Millions of dollars earned through these illicit dealings ended up in SOF accounts.

One money laundering charge was raised based on allegations that he had sat on, and also used, the USD 59 million generated through leasing islands and lagoons.

Adeeb also faced a second money laundering charge for keeping the funds earned through the USD exchange transactions between MMPRC and Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), as well as spending them for personal use.

The state charged Adeeb with exerting influence to earn illicit gains for securing and using funds generated from the MMPRC-MPL dollar transactions as well as a million-dollar loan taken by MMPRC from Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

For using his position of power to lease islands and lagoon through MMPRC without a bidding process and gaining undue advantages for various parties, the ex-VP was charged with exerting influence for illicit gains for another party.

He was charged with abusing his official position for the same aforementioned reason.

Shortening sentences

Under the confessional agreement between Adeeb and the state, the ex-VP will face four years and nine months of jail time for the first count of embezzlement while the second count of embezzlement carries a two-year and four-month sentence.

While his charge for exerting influence for illicit gains for another party results in a six-month sentence, Adeeb stands to be incarcerated for another three months for abusing his official position. He also faces an additional month in prison for exerting influence to earn illicit gains.

Each count of money laundering carries a five-year sentence.

If found guilty of all charges, Adeeb can be imprisoned for a period of 17 years and 11 months.

Judge Hassan Saeed accepted Adeeb's confession after the ex-VP confirmed in court that he was not under duress to confess or sign the confessional agreement with the state.

Due to Adeeb's confession, the judges' bench decided to fast-track the case and scheduled a hearing for upcoming Monday to deliver the final verdict.

The ex-VP will be held under state custody, as ordered by the court, until he is sentenced.

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