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Maldives graft watchdog quiz govt lawmaker over bribery admission

Mohamed Visham
31 August 2016, MVT 15:09
Maldives Development Alliance MP Mohamed Ismail pictured during a parliament sitting. FILE PHOTO/PARLIAMENT SECRETARIAT
Mohamed Visham
31 August 2016, MVT 15:09

Maldives' graft watchdog on Tuesday questioned a ruling coalition lawmaker over his sensational admission of bribing fellow lawmakers with cash linked to the largest embezzlement of state funds in the country's history.

The Maldives Development Alliance MP sparked public outrage in March by admitting to have carried “sacks of money” to opposition MPs on behalf of jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

“I carried and distributed the money, and they all took it,” he had said during a debate on a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the embezzlement of USD79 million from the state-owned tourism promotion company.

Ismail told Mihaaru that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had questioned him over his link to Adheeb and any financial transactions conducted in association with the ex-VP.

The constitution provides lawmakers immunity from prosecution with regard to statements made during parliament sittings which was reiterated by the Hoarafushi MP.

"I don't believe I can be prosecuted over something I said in parliament," Ismail added.

He had maintained that he was unaware where the money came from.

An official audit report had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company.

Ismail meanwhile went on to claim that most opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) lawmakers accepted the bribes, vowing to reveal their names “when the time comes.”

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