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ACC to prosecute MMA top officials over MMPRC graft

Ahmed Aiham
19 February 2019, MVT 14:08
Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA)'s main office building in capital Male. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
19 February 2019, MVT 14:08

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) seeks to prosecute former top officials of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) over negligence in the graft scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

According to ACC, MMA's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had been informed in detail of a suspicious transaction involving a cheque for USD 59 million from MMPRC through private company SOF Pvt Ltd.

The company is known to have close ties with former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who is currently serving a hefty jail sentence over his involvement in the MMPRC scandal.

Despite the suspicious nature of the deposits, FIU concluded that there was no evidence of money laundering in regards to SOF and decided against filing the case at the authorities for further investigation.

However, ACC rejected FIU's claims that there was no money laundering involved. Moreover, ACC accused that the case was never submitted to Police due to influence.

The watchdog has decided to seek charges against those they accuse of influencing the investigation. The Commission is yet to reveal the names of the accused.

Amongst those questioned over negligence are;

- Former MMA Governor Azeema Adam

- Former Head of FIU Ibrahim Athif Shakoor

- Other senior employees of MMA.

In Athif's statement included in the report, he revealed that then governor of MMA had been urged to further investigate the transactions of SOF highlighted in FIU's report. The governor of MMA at the time was Azeema Adam.

However, Azeema had objected to filing a police report, with the excuse of lacking sufficient resources, said Athif.

Denying the allegations, Azeema stated that since FIU is an independent body, the final authority to take action and filing cases lies with the unit head.

FIU's negligence;

- FIU did not reveal the motive behind major transactions SOF made via Bank of Maldives Ltd (BML) and Bank of Ceylon (BOC)

- FIU did not look into withdrawals made after a state firm (MMPRC) deposited substantial amounts to SOF's account

- There were no financial statements to indicate whether MMPRC had transferred the money to SOF as payment for any services

- FIU was aware but took no action when SOF refused to provide information requested by BML regarding the money deposited by MMPRC

ACC does not hold the authority to investigate cases of money laundering and has expressed concern with the lack of a framework to investigate illicit enrichment.

In the report detailing that evidence to suggest that the acquisition costs of islands and lagoons owed to MMPRC had been embezzled and laundered through SOF. The report also reveals the identities and accounts of individuals and businesses that received millions from SOF.

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