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Opposition seeks probe into Maldives pres’ dirty money “confession”

Fathmath Shaahunaz
17 August 2017, MVT 11:00
MDP chairperson Hassan Latheef speaks at press conference. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
17 August 2017, MVT 11:00

The opposition on Wednesday requested the Prosecutor General’s Office to order a police investigation into the president’s “confession” that unlawful cash had entered his house.

President Abdulla Yameen’s comments were made during the opening ceremony of his new campaign hub earlier this week, where he acknowledged the allegations in Al-Jazeera’s expose “Stealing Paradise” which claim that the president had received money that was embezzled from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). Over MVR 2.1 billion had been embezzled from MMPRC by his jailed former deputy Ahmed Adheeb in the largest corruption scandal in the history of the Maldives.

The president had declared that Al-Jazeera “only saw the money that entered [his] house” and nothing else, which he stated is not true.

“That money did not enter box by box into my house alone. Ahmed Adheeb was the one who expended for the people we wanted to elect, by any means, for the parliament. Thus, the money that entered my house was not lawful without a doubt. If the parliament members I mentioned can believe this, I urge them to resign from their posts.”

Speaking at a press conference held Wednesday, main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Chairperson Hassan Latheef pronounced that President Yameen had clearly admitted that MMPRC’s money entered his own coffers. He announced that the opposition has filed the case at Maldives Police Service as well as requested the PG Office to order Police to launch a criminal investigation into the president’s comments.

Latheef noted that the opposition had filed another case against President Yameen at the police, which is also related to the MMPRC corruption. He stated that the opposition had later requested in writing to expedite the case following a long delay, but Police have not responded still.

The opposition has filed the case of President Yameen’s “confession” at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in addition to the police and PG Office. They also submitted a number of other related issues to the parliament and National Integrity Commission (NIC).

According to Hassan Latheef, the opposition submitted at NIC the issue of Police delaying the first case that was filed against President Yameen, stating that Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef must be held responsible. Meanwhile, the issue submitted to Parliament requested to summon the five members of ACC over delaying the case filed with them.

Latheef added that even if Maldivian authorities refuse to probe the cases, an investigation will be launched with the aid of international bodies as the issues are related to the largest corruption scandal in the Maldives’ history.

Meanwhile, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have released a statement defending President Yameen’s speech, claiming that his comments have been grossly misinterpreted by the media. PPM alleged that the president was simply raising questions about the “unlawful cash”; the party’s statement said that the president was asking whether the cash that went to the parliamentarians were also “unlawful”.