The Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, on Sunday, declared that the Ministry’s legal department has begun reviewing the Nasandhura Palace Hotel agreement. The Minister spoke to local media outlet Mihaaru stating that the legal team would seek the guidance of the Auditor General’s Office (AG) in the case which is also being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Maldives. Minister Waheed assured that statements publicized by AG regarding the issue would be respected and emphasized that the legal team is only looking into the matter again to discern alternate courses of action. The development of the former Nasandhura Palace plot into a four-star hotel is currently being carried out by the Zhongtian Construction Group. The Auditor General had previously advised investigating the handover management of the plot to NPH Investment Pvt Ltd during the tenure of former Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb. While the brother-in-law of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom is a shareholder of NPH Investment Pvt Ltd, the lease agreement was drafted without consulting the ministry and awarded without publicly opening applications for bids. In addition, the auditor general has raised concerns that the 50-year lease had been issued with a CSR (corporate social responsibility) component instead of payment to the state. However, details of the CSR have not been disclosed, which the auditor general had urged to be finalised. The former Nasandhura Palace Hotel had been closed down during the twilight of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime to develop a park and restrooms for tourists in the land plot.
However, following the change in government at the time, former president Mohamed Nasheed had reopened the hotel, leasing its operation to Galaxy Enterprises for a period of eight years. Management of Nasandhura Palace Hotel was later handed over to NPH Investment Pvt Ltd.