The Bank of Maldives has hired Deloitte Singapore to conduct a forensic audit of transactions related to the theft of US$90 million from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
The stolen funds were funnelled through the national bank after cheques paid to the MMPRC as resort acquisition fees were deposited to the account of a company called SOF. But the bank denies enabling the embezzlement scheme.
“However, as investigations into MMPRC continue, the Board feels that it is in the best interests of the Bank and the country to engage an independent external party to conduct a detailed investigative audit into the transactions relating to this matter,” BML said on Monday evening.
Deloitte Singapore, which has more than 150 years of experience in financial services, will review all transactions with MMPRC and SOF and examine endorsed cheques as well as the reporting and control procedures in place at the time.
“This review reflects the determination of the recently appointed Board and CEO to ensure that the Bank of Maldives is seen as a trusted institution with the highest levels of integrity,” the bank said. “It is also part of a wider series of measures which will include recruiting a new Chief Risk Officer to focus upon risk and compliance policies.”
The MMPRC scandal was first exposed in a damning audit report released in February 2016, which implicated former vice president Ahmed Adeeb and his associates in siphoning off fees paid to lease islands and lagoons for resort development. According to a bank statement leaked by whistleblower Gasim Abdul Kareem – who was jailed for disclosing information – more than US$84 million was channeled through SOF’s US dollar account between May 2014 to October 2015.
After the new administration took office in November last year, a joint investigation was launched by the police, Anti-Corruption Commission and the new presidential commission on corruption and asset recovery. Progress has been made based on new information and confessions by Adeeb and his exiled associates from SOF, according to a press briefing in late October.