Two senior officers of the Maldives military were suspended Wednesday over suspicion of involvement in the country’s biggest corruption scandal.
Major Naveen Zubair and Sergeant Ismail Shakeeb were both “asked to stay home” starting from Wednesday, Maldives National Defence Force spokesman Ibrahim Azim told Maldives Independent.
The disciplinary action was taken in relation to an inquiry launched after the release of an Anti-Corruption Commission report in February, he added.
The long-awaited report named several individuals who received payments from SOF Pvt Ltd, a company that was used to channel the bulk of US$90 million stolen from resort acquisition fees paid to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
SOF had transferred US$100,000 to Major Naveen’s account, the report revealed.
Following the release of the report, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Abdulla Shamaal told the press that action would be taken once Naveen returned to the Maldives after completing a training course overseas.
Naveen arrived on Tuesday, Raajje.mv reported.
The MNDF spokesman declined to confirm whether the Ismail Shakeeb who was named in the ACC report as having received MVR2 million (US$129,700) from SOF was the sergeant who was suspended.
On the day of the report’s publication in early February, Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and State Minister Akram Kamalludeen were suspended after they were named among individuals who received bank transfers.
Both top officials insisted they conducted legitimate transactions with SOF to purchase US dollars, a defence that was also made by prominent local companies named in the report.
Two board directors of state-owned enterprises who were also named in the report remain suspended.
According to Mihaaru, the anti-corruption watchdog last week shared the findings of the inquiry with the president’s office. Youth Minister Mahloof was told by the ACC that he was not the subject of any ongoing investigation.
But the president’s spokesman Ibrahim Hood told the Maldives Independent that a decision on lifting the suspension has not been made.
The government’s investigation is “ongoing,” he said.