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Embezzled MMPRC funds to pockets of 4 lawmakers

Fathmath Shaahunaz
14 February 2019, MVT 15:58
L-R: Hulhuhenveiru MP Moosa Manik, Guraidhoo MP Hussain Manik Dhonmanik, former MP and current Minister of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment, Ahmed Mahloof, Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed. IMAGE/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
14 February 2019, MVT 15:58

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)'s report on the MVR 1.3 billion corruption scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) revealed that four parliamentarians had received over MVR 9 million from the stolen funds.

The largest graft scandal in Maldives history's, the MMPRC corruption saw the embezzlement of over MVR 1.3 billion acquired via island and lagoon leases for tourism, through a private company SOF Pvt Ltd.

ACC's 779-page report on the case publicised on Thursday, exposes the identities and bank accounts of individuals and companies which received funds embezzled from MMPRC. Those implicated include lawmakers and businesspeople.

Prior to the report, there were several allegations that parliamentarians had been bribed with the money stolen from MMPRC, to garner their votes for parliamentary bills favoured by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration.

According to ACC's investigative report, SOF deposited money to the accounts of:

- Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed: USD 424,255 (MVR 6,542,012)

- Hulhuhenveiru MP Moosa Manik: USD 100,000 (MVR 1,542,000)

- Former MP and current Minister of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment, Ahmed Mahloof: USD 33,000 (MVR 539,700)

- Guraidhoo MP Hussain Manik Dhonmanik: USD 250,000 (MVR 3,855,000)

ACC did not disclose the identities of any parliamentarians that received the funds in cash.

The report shows that MP Hussain Manik received the funds from USD 1,500,000 paid to MMPRC as the acquisition cost of Bodufaru Finolhu, Alif Dhaal Atoll, leased to Bodufaru Beach Resort. Nine other entities in addition to Hussain Manik were listed as having received portions from this amount as well.

SOF had also transferred USD 150,000 (MVR 2,313,000) to Mohamed Inan Hussain, the brother of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)'s parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan.

Furthermore, the company deposited USD 1,519,000 to Red Wave Pvt Ltd, of which Eydhafushi MP Ahmed Saleem is a shareholder.

ACC's report also details entities which received over USD 1 million from SOF, including former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Abdulla Asim, Abdulla Rafiu, Abdulla Rasheed, Abdul Rasheed Hassan, Ahmed Jameel, Ali Mujaah, Khalid Abdulla Ali, Zareer Ibrahim, Amin Construction, CGT Pvt Ltd, Millennium Capital Management, MMPRC and Red Wave.

According to the report, USD 59,455,000 owed to MMPRC as acquisition costs of islands and lagoons had been directly deposited to SOF's account. Total USD 64,805,000 owed to the state had been deposited to SOF.

ACC revealed that MMPRC was owed USD 77,455,000 via the leasing of 57 islands and lagoons. However, MMPRC had received only USD 12,500,000 of the amount, out of which large fractions still went to SOF and Millennium Capital Management. The latter is owned by local businessman Hamid Ismail, who is currently serving a two-year jail sentence over his involvement in the MMPRC corruption.

Summary of the embezzlement:

MVR 1,107,233,100 owed to MMPRC as acquisition costs were transferred to:

- SOF: USD 64,805,000 (MVR 999,293,100)

- Millennium Capital Management: USD 6,500,000 (MVR 100,230,000)

- MU Store: USD 100,000 (MVR 1,542,000)

- Abdulla Asim: USD 400,000 (MVR 6,168,000)

Other funds owed to MMPRC:

- SOF: MVR 127,184,546

- Millennium Capital Management: MVR 38,300,000

- Hamid Ismail: MVR 38,300,000

The report added that there were no written documents to explain why USD 1,500,000 were transferred to Millennium Capital Management from MMPRC.

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