President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Monday declared that the opposition coalition did not have the strength to recover embezzled or missing state funds.
He made the remark in response to a vow made by the opposition coalition's presidential candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Ibu), that he would form a committee on his first day of office to recover all the missing funds owed to the state.
Speaking at the ceremony held to mark the completion of the beach protection project at Kandoodhoo, Thaa Atoll, President Yameen stated that main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), of which Ibu is the parliamentary group leader, had received the chance to recover embezzled funds during their regime. However former President Mohamed Nasheed had failed to do so during the three years of his abridged government, said Yameen.
Yameen highlighted that when MDP came to power, the investigation into the Fisheries Projects Implementation Department (FPID) embezzlement in 1990, which was the largest corruption scandal at that time, had been completed. He demanded why MDP had not taken the opportunity to recover the state funds lost via the FPID graft.
"The report on the largest corruption case of that time was completed. The embezzlers' identities were transparently clear. The only thing left was to take action against them, but that's not what they did," said Yameen, saying that the presidential committee Nasheed had formed to investigate embezzlement cases, had accomplished nothing but threaten and intimidate former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom during whose administration the FPID corruption case occurred, and other state officials.
Yameen went on to highlight that Ibu had still been MDP's PG leader during the opposition's government, and declared that Ibu had not dared attempt to recover the missing state funds via the parliament as well. Hence Ibu's pledge of a committee to recover state assets bore little weight, he said.
The president proclaimed that it was his administration that was working to recover embezzled funds, referring to the state asset recovery committee. Yameen stated that the committee was identifying the exact amount of funds owed to the state, notifying those responsible for it, and taking the perpetrators to court as necessary.
"In my government, acts of corruption will always be addressed and action will be taken as required. But none of the other governments can stand on a podium and say the same in front of the people."
Yameen further noted that the opposition coalition was making promises to free inmates convicted of major corruption charges, and condemned their attempts, asserting that calling the convicts in question "political prisoners" and releasing them could not be done.