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Ex-VP Jihad faces corruption charges over Fushidhiggaru project

Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2020, MVT 14:22
Former vice president and finance minister, Abdulla Jihad, speaks at a parliament sitting. Jihad has been charged with corruption in connection with the development of K.Fushidhiggaru as a special tourist zone. FILE PHOTO/MAJLIS
Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2020, MVT 14:22

The Prosecutor General's Office on Sunday levied corruption charges against former Vice President Abdulla Jihad, in relation to the development of Fushidhiggaru, Kaafu Atoll, as a special tourist zone.

The former vice president was charged under Section 13 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption Act, which details the "offence of acting in a manner which precludes an advantage to the public or the State where a benefit exists".

In a press release, the PG Office noted that the cabinet had decided on November 29, 2011, for the government to enter a joint venture agreement where the state holds 50 percent shares, to develop Fushidhiggaru as a special tourist zone.

The decision also asserted that there would not be any government expenditures involved in the project, and that the state would receive land rent.

However, Jihad, who was serving as the Minister of Finance and Treasury at the time, on January 13, 2013 signed a joint venture agreement with Prime Capital Maldives which gave the government only 25 percent of the shares, in violation of the cabinet's decision.

The PG Office declared that Jihad had no reason to sign off on such an agreement, and highlighted that his decision cost the state over USD 604.7 million. This amount comprises more than USD 441.7 million that would have been generated as land rent revenue over 50 years, and more than USD 192.9 million as prime location charge fees for the same period.

Changing the government shares to 25 percent also incurred losses through the joint venture's trade profit.

The issue was filed with the PG Office by the presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery, following its investigations.

Furthermore, the issue was also lodged at the Anti-Commission Commission (ACC) on August 29, 2013. However, the graft watchdog concluded on February 16, 2016, that there had not been any corruption involved.

The PG Office revealed that the presidential commission also requested the Office to investigate the ACC's verdict as a separate case.

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