Anti-graft watchdog seeks to recover US$84m

Anti-graft watchdog seeks to recover US$84m
October 22 17:21 2017

The anti-corruption watchdog has sought charges against four unnamed men to recover MVR1.3 billion (US$84.3 million) in stolen public funds.

The 43 counts of “recompensing government loss” against the four men were among 239 charges forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office in the third quarter of 2017, the Anti-Corruption Commission said in a statement Thursday.

The charges include 99 counts of “providing undue advantage for a third party” against six men and 97 counts of “acting in a manner which precludes an advantage to the public or state” against three men.

According to the ACC, all of the 239 charges stem from the investigation of four cases that concluded during the third quarter. The watchdog also noted that all 13 suspects were male government employees.

The ACC did not offer further details and officials were unavailable for comment.

But Sun Online reported that the stolen funds were related to corruption scandals of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation and three other state-owned companies. The bulk of the recompense cases reportedly involve the theft of nearly US$80 million in resort lease payments and other funds from the MMPRC.

In June last year, Abdulla Ziyath, the MMPRC’s former managing director, and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, were each handed eight-year sentences over the theft of US$5 million paid by Kuredu Holdings for the island of Maabinhuraa in Lhaviyani Atoll.

The case was just one of more than 50 counts of graft against the pair. More than 30 counts were filed at the criminal court earlier this year.

The other cases sent for prosecution in the third quarter meanwhile involved corruption at the Maldives Ports Limited as well as the utilities State Electricity Company and Fenaka Corporation.

In September, a special audit of the Fenaka Corporation uncovered a foreign exchange scam and corrupt fuel supply and procurement deals that cost millions in losses

Both the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission launched investigations after local media uncovered the Fenaka scandal in late 2016.

Newspaper Mihaaru alleged the involvement of politicians in the foreign exchange scam but was unable to reveal names due to provisions in the controversial new defamation law.

The Maldives Ports Limited was meanwhile under investigation over a loss-making fuel supply deal and alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of a small boat in need of repairs for MVR5 million.

Earlier this month, a presidential commission on asset recovery declared that more than MVR13.5 billion (US$875 million) has been lost or stolen from state coffers since the 1990s.