Yameen orders audit of tourism firm over corruption

Yameen orders audit of tourism firm over corruption
October 27 14:12 2015

President Abdulla Yameen has ordered an audit into the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), a company at the center of a corruption scandal as well as the explosion on the presidential speedboat on September 28.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, in a tweet said Yameen wants the audit to begin from November 17, 2013, the day after Yameen assumed the presidency.

The MMPRC is tasked with promoting Maldives as a tourist destination.

Following Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest on suspicion of plotting the boat blast, Yameen in a public address, suggested his deputy had siphoned funds from MMPRC, obtained from leasing islands for resort development. to make unbudgeted expenses on the police force.

MMPRC’s Managing Director Abdulla Ziyath is also in custody.

The Auditor General Hassan Ziyath is his brother.

Ziyath’s lawyer Hussain Shameem, who is also representing Adeeb, last night said Ziyath was arrested not on suspicion of links to the assassination attempt, but on a charge of corruption involving the MMPRC.

Yameen had said Ziyath was only arrested when he chose to remain silent, a right guaranteed by the constitution.

The company’s offices were shut down last week, and remains closed, disrupting several tourism fairs.

The Maldives Independent was unable to obtain a comment from the president’s office at the time of going to press.

The main oppposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesman MP Imthiyaz Fahmy raised concerns over the conflict of interest arising from the fact that MMPRC’s head is the Auditor General’s own brother.

“How could the auditor general conduct an impartial and independent audit of MMPRC, and the actions of his own brother? This clearly shows that the government is not committed to conducting a full and thorough investigation.”

Ziyath was appointed as the Auditor General after the ruling party voted out his predecessor when he issued an audit report implicating his brother and Adeeb in a US$6million corruption scandal.

“Niyaz was removed unconstitutionally, to hide the corrupt practices in MMPRC. The audit report clearly mentions in detail the corruption in MMPRC. Yameen chose to ignore it then,” Fahmy said.

Yameen on Sunday also raised concerns over MMPRC’s ‘illegal’ import of fireworks. He suggested the fireworks could have been used to make the explosive device on the boat.

Moosa Ali Jaleel, the defence minister, was sacked for authorizing the MMPRC to import fireworks.

Lawyer Shameem said Ziyath has not been questioned on the fireworks yet.