President’s bank details shared with anti-graft watchdog

President’s bank details shared with anti-graft watchdog
February 24 14:14 2016

The Maldives Islamic Bank has released details of President Abdulla Yameen’s bank accounts in an ongoing inquiry into allegations of embezzlement from state coffers.

MIB had first refused to share information with the Anti Corruption Commission, prompting a warning by the watchdog ordering banks to comply with anti-graft laws.

Muaviz Rasheed, the ACC’s vice-president, confirmed that “information requested by ACC has been given by the banks.” He declined to comment further.

Yameen’s regime is mired in a massive corruption scandal involving the embezzlement of at least US$80million from tourism leases. The opposition claims it has evidence that some US$500,000 from stolen funds was deposited in Yameen’s account at the MIB in October.

Mohamed Shafaau Hassan, the MIB spokesman, declined to comment.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has previously published a slip that appears to show US$500,000 was deposited to the president’s personal account at MIB.

Yameen has categorically denied allegations of his involvement and has pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

He acknowledged that the theft of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation funds was the “biggest corruption [scandal] in the history of the Maldives.”

“No doubt my government will take the necessary action against all those who were involved in this corruption,” he said.

Ruling party officials have sought to pin the blame for stolen funds on Yameen’s former deputy Ahmed Adeeb and his associates, following their arrest on suspicion of links to a mysterious explosion on the presidential speedboat.

But former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim, who lost his job when he flagged misappropriation of funds from MMPRC, has said Yameen must bear responsibility for the stolen funds.

Niyaz had noted MMPRC had obtained MVR77million (US$5million) from the state-owned ports company in 2014 the guise of buying dollars, but transferred the money to accounts linked to businessmen.

The cash was then withdrawn in large amounts and used to influence the 2014 parliamentary elections, he alleged.

The real value of the stolen money is likely to be as high as MVR3.5billion (US$230million), he added.

The latest audit, conducted on Yameen’s orders, revealed that the bulk of stolen funds had been deposited to the account of a local company called SOF Pvt Ltd, owned by Mohamed Allam Latheef ‘Moho,’ a close associate of Adeeb.

SOF claimed that it had provided a “brokerage” service to the MMPRC and distributed the funds as requested to the first couple, the ruling party, and prominent politicians.

The MDP meanwhile contends it has information proving Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim benefited from the MMPRC scam was omitted from the audit report.

But the audit office has denied facing undue influence from the government.

The MDP has also alleged that the central bank Maldives Monetary Authority helped launder US$1.5billion, a claim the bank has subsequently denied.