Ex vice president, top tourism official charged with corruption

Ex vice president, top tourism official charged with corruption
December 06 18:16 2015

The Prosecutor General’s Office has filed corruption charges against impeached Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and the former head of the government’s tourism promotion office over the illegal lease of islands for resort development.

Adeeb is accused of abuse of power over the lease of a lagoon in Malé atoll to a foreign company. Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, was charged with embezzlement.

Hisham Wajeeh, PG office spokesperson, told The Maldives Independent that Adeeb was charged under section 513(b) of the penal code, “which prohibits the use of power and authority granted to an individual by the state for his or her personal gain.”

Adeeb is under custody on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen with a bomb of his speedboat. His arrest on October 24 upon his return from an official trip to China plunged the Maldives into a fresh political crisis.

The MMPRC has been at the centre of the investigation into the September 28 blast on the president’s speedboat. The government says bomb-making material may have been smuggled on a fireworks shipment imported by the MMPRC.

Nearly US$100 million embezzled from resort lease fees is also thought to be missing.

Hisham explained that lagoons and uninhabited islands are under the authority of the tourism ministry, which leases them to the MMPRC.

The 100 percent government-owned corporation then subleases the properties to developers and collects acquisition fees.

Ziyath is accused of embezzling portions of the acquisition fees paid to the state.

“We suspect that Adeeb had facilitated the embezzlement through his influence, power and authority as the Vice President and the minister in charge at the tourism ministry while Ziyath is suspected of embezzling the acquisition fees,” he said.

Adeeb is also facing other charges, including attempted murder, criminal conspiracy, and terrorism charges on suspicion of carrying a pistol. The terrorism charges were filed at the criminal court a few weeks ago.

Ziyath, a close associate of the former vice president, was meanwhile arrested a day before Adeeb’s return to the Maldives.

Yameen had previously accused his former deputy of siphoning funds from the MMPRC to gain undue influence over the police force.