MDP claims evidence of Maldives government involvement in terrorism financing

MDP claims evidence of Maldives government involvement in terrorism financing
February 04 17:32 2016

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party claims it has damning evidence of government involvement in terrorism financing, money laundering, and bribery.

In an explosive statement today, the MDP said it had received a report of a covert intelligence operation based on direct interviews with officials of President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, and analyses conducted on material found on detained former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s personal laptops.

The evidence appears to show that senior politicians, police, military, and judges are “working together in a single criminal conspiracy creating a haven for corruption, turning a nascent democracy into an industrial-scale kleptocracy,” the party said.

Massive influxes of cash from unidentified sources from Saudi Arabia, amounting to more than £500 million, were also distributed as bribes, the statement in English read. It claimed that in the beginning of 2015 alone, some £7million in cash arrived in the Maldives from the Gulf by plane.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, denounced the MDP’s allegations as baseless, claiming that the government has taken the initiative to stop corruption.

“Up until now, every statement the MDP has released comprises of lies created to defame the government. If they have evidence they must file it with investigative bodies,” he said.

Yameen himself has acknowledged that state funds from tourism leases were siphoned to bribe the security forces, but has sought to put the blame solely on the shoulders of his former deputy.

Adeeb’s spectacular fall from favour came in the wake of a blast on Yameen’s speedboat in September. The mysterious explosion plunged Yameen’s regime, already besieged by a crisis over the jailing of opposition leaders, into further chaos.

Watchdog bodies are now investigating the loss of tens of millions of dollars from tourism leases from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

The MDP did not name its sources, claiming the people responsible for the crimes “are violent and dangerous. They have important interests to protest, and will not hesitate to use violence to protect them.”

According to the party, documents from Adeeb’s laptops have yielded a number of highly incriminating emails implicating two companies based in Singapore, a major regulatory body in the Maldives and a number of named individuals.

The dossier it reportedly received contains photographs, financial transaction record, detailed email exchanges proving impropriety and cheques. It has been shared with members of the international community, the party said

The investigation, carried out by an unnamed intelligence organisation, also appears to show that an unnamed individual was paying gangs to commit crimes on behalf of Yameen’s regime, the party said.

“Intelligence indicates that this individual has been directly involved in terrorist recruiting and financing related to the so-called Islamic State or ISIS. He has coordinated and funded more than 100 Maldivians to travel to Syria.”

Corrupt immigration officials were used to facilitate their travel and to ensure they are able to re-enter without the risk of arrest and prosecution, the party said.

“The report further alleges that judges at every level have received and solicited bribes to influence their decisions – the clearest possible evidence of endemic corruption threatening any prospect of maintaining democracy, the rule of law and the separation of powers.”

Regime officials expropriated public funds for “unlawful surveillance of political opponents and other unlawful political purposes; the making of corrupt payments to members of the judiciary; and the making of corrupt payments to politicians, police officers, businessmen and those involved in organized crime.

“Very substantial sums of money appear to have been delivered in cash by car to senior members of President Yameen’s regime.”

The Anti Corruption Commission and the Auditor General’s Office said their report into MMPRC’s corruption will be made public soon. The case has been branded the Maldives’ biggest ever corruption scandal.

The opposition coalition is launching a campaign against corruption with a major rally tonight and a walk tomorrow. Adeeb’s predecessor Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was impeached last July, has formally joined the opposition.

The allegations, the second made formally by MDP, comes after former President Mohamed Nasheed was allowed abroad for 30 days. He had been serving a 13-year sentence on a terror charge.

Nasheed is expected to address his supporters in a video message tonight. He has urged the international community to impose targeted sanctions on officials responsible for human rights abuses.

The MDP has previously called on Yameen to face investigation, claiming it has received evidence that one million dollars was deposited at a bank account under the name of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Niyaz Ibrahim, the former Auditor General who lost his job when he flagged Adeeb’s involvement in embezzling funds from MMPRC, has argued that the president must take responsibility for missing millions.

Adeeb has meanwhile pledged his support for the opposition. He is currently being held at a high-security prison awaiting trial on corruption and terrorism charges.

Additional writing by Zaheena Rasheed