The Edition


Maldives' jailed ex-VP conspired with police to 'blast' audit office: Al Jazeera expose

Mohamed Visham
07 September 2016, MVT 15:15
A screen grab of the Al Jazeera documentary "Stealing Paradise' shows former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim.
Mohamed Visham
07 September 2016, MVT 15:15

Jailed former vice president Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor had conspired with a few police officers to "blast" the auditor general's office to stop the publication of an audit report into the largest embezzlement in the country's history, the new Al Jazeera documentary has revealed.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary titled ‘Stealing Paradise’ contains leaked documents, text messages and recorded confessions that has blown the lid off mass corruption and abuse of power in the archipelago.

According to the Doha based broadcaster, the leak is the contents of three mobile phones which it says belonged to the now jailed former VP Adeeb.

The documentary has revealed several text messages exchanged between the ex-VP and two police officers from the Specialist Operations (SO) unit over the imminent release of the audit report spearheaded by the then Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim.

The 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 with strong links to Adheeb.

The evidence uncovered by Al Jazeera shows that Adheeb had conspired with the police to silence the then Auditor General.

"You guys need to focus on this auditor general," Adheeb says in a text message to one of the SO officers.

"No worries," a police special operations named Abdulla Didi replies.

A screen grab of the Al Jazeera documentary 'Stealing Paradise' shows an alleged text message sent by former vice president Adheeb to a SO police officer.

Then quite alarmingly the ex-VP suggests to "light up" the Auditor General's office which employs over 200 staff as "he is continuously making trouble for us."

However, a second police officer quickly highlights the risk.

"We checked that place. Lots of camera[s] everywhere," an officer named Saif Hussain says.

But the ex-vice president was adamant and insists that Niyaz must be stopped.

"Ok. But need to blast it at any cost," Adheeb replies in another text message.

"Sure. Lets do it," was Hussain's reply.

A screen grab of the Al Jazeera documentary 'Stealing Paradise' shows an alleged text message sent by former vice president Adheeb to a SO police officer.

When Al Jazeera shared the heinous plot with Niyaz who was ousted in 2014 shortly after he flagged the MMPRC embezzlement was clearly seen in disbelief.

"Oh my god. Oh my god," was all he could manage at first.

"These guys were trying to blast the office with 200 staff."

"This is clearly state sponsored terrorism against its own people and institutions."

Adheeb meanwhile has been convicted and sentenced to eight years for misappropriating acquisition fees paid by a foreign company for the 50-year lease of a lagoon in the capital atoll.

The former VP was also convicted of orchestrating the blast and sentenced to 15 years in prison which added to the 10 year prison sentence he received for a weapons possession conviction a day earlier.

Authorities have also alleged that some of the money had been used to fund the blast aboard the presidential speedboat in September last year.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim were travelling to Male from the airport on September 28 when the explosion took place. They had returned home that morning after concluding their visit to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The president was unhurt, but the first lady suffered a spinal fracture.