A special audit of the Southern Transport Link has flagged more than MVR350,000 (US$22,700) that has gone missing from the subsidiary of the state-owned Maldives Ports Limited.
According to the report made public Monday, the money was earned from ferry services, transporting cargo and renting out vessels between December 21, 2015 and May 31, 2016 but was not deposited into the ports company’s bank account.
Auditor General Hassan Ziyath recommended both an internal inquiry to find out who was responsible and a probe by the Anti-Corruption Commission into the missing funds.
The STL was set up in December 2015 to provide public transport in the southernmost atolls of Addu and Fuvahmulah. The MPL asked the audit office to look into suspected embezzlement in June 2016.
Receipts and financial records showed that MVR246,958 was collected from the sale of ferry tickets between March and May 2016, but the money could not be found at the office.
According to the report, information was also collected from private companies due to the absence of records at the STL office on leasing ferry boats and speedboats.
Of the missing funds, auditors found that that MVR67,000 was deposited into private bank accounts. The money was collected from a private company and an NGO with fraudulent receipts and, in one case, without any receipts.
STL’s assistant supervisor told auditors this was done on the instructions of the office finance and administration manager.
The money was deposited into the accounts of persons associated with the manager.
In two other cases, MVR12,000 and MVR25,000 owed from leasing boats were also unaccounted for at the STL office.
The STL’s parent company, the Maldives Ports Limited, is also under investigation by the anti-graft watchdog over a loss-making fuel supply deal and alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of a small boat in need of repairs for MVR5 million.