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ACC confirms investigation of 155 individuals implicated in MMPRC scandal

Ahmed Aiham
20 February 2019, MVT 21:50
Anti-Corruption Commission. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
20 February 2019, MVT 21:50

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), on Wednesday, confirmed an investigation into the 155 individuals, who were exposed to have received funds in the graft scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relation Corporation (MMPRC).

In the largest corruption case in the history of Maldives, 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.

The probe revealed that certain individuals received funds amounting to millions, which include top officials in the current administration and parliamentarians.

However, ACC is yet to disclose the level of involvement these individuals had over the scandal.

According to ACC's Vice President Muaviz Rasheed, the commission had already decided to investigate the 155 individuals, when the graft watchdog reported the details of its probe to relevant state institutions on August 10, 2017.

Muaviz stated that the commission is currently investigating the grounds in which the individuals received the deposits.

Moreover, the Vice President expressed difficulties in conducting the investigation, and revealed that the commission is currently in talks with Police to collaborate on the probe.

Since the scandal involved the laundering of state leased islands, the commission had questioned individuals related to the islands as well as suspects involved in the scandal.

ACC stated that one of the biggest obstacles faced was a failure to summon the alleged instigators for investigation.

The SOF transactions were leaked by Bank of Maldives (BML) Nilandhoo Branch's Manager Gasim Abdul Kaleem in 2016, following the explosion aboard the presidential speedboat in September 2015.

SOF is known to have ties with Ahmed Adeeb, the first Minister of Tourism and later Vice President in Yameen's government, who is currently convicted of orchestrating the speedboat blast.

The shareholders of SOF promptly fled the country following the leaks, including Mohamed Allam Latheef and Mohamed Hussain.

The alleged accomplice to both Allam and Hussain, Ahmed Ishfah Ali fled the country as well. All three have received a red notice, summoning them for police investigation.

The Presidential Commission on the Investigation of Corruption and Asset Recovery requested ACC to investigate the 155 individuals and to disclose any wrongdoings found by the watchdog.

Meanwhile, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has suspended the government officials implicated in the case, including Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Engagement Ahmed Mahloof, Maldives Water and Sewerage Company's Chairman Ahmed Mausoom, State Minister for Ministry of Planning Akram Kamaaludheen, and Island Aviation Services' Non-Executive Director Abdulla Azim.

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