The Bank of Maldives has flatly denied accusations that a top official deliberately misled parliament and committed perjury while testifying before the public accounts committee.
The national bank released a statement defending Deputy CEO Mohamed Shareef on Tuesday evening, hours after Speaker Mohamed Nasheed announced that parliament will ask police to investigate him and seek perjury charges.
“The officials who gave information at the parliament on behalf of the bank relied on bank records and were truthful. In answering questions by MPs, the officials again relied on available bank records and answered honestly,” BML insisted.
Shareef was questioned by the oversight committee last week over the bank’s alleged role in the theft of more than MVR1.4 billion (US$91 million) from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a corruption scandal of unprecedented scale in the country’s history.
The stolen funds were funnelled through the bank after cheques paid to the MMPRC as resort acquisition fees were deposited to the accounts of a private company called SOF.
The bone of contention arose over Shareef’s insistence that the bank did not deposit non-negotiable cheques to SOF’s account, an assertion that was disputed by the Anti-Corruption Commission to the media as a photo of a non-negotiable HSBC cheque started circulating on Twitter.
The law requires non-negotiable cheques to be deposited to the payee’s account.
In its statement, BML said it did not start keeping records with the originals or images of cheques from other banks until 2016. The bank started clearing cheques under a cheque imaging and truncation system during the year, it said.
It was the responsibility of the cheque issuing bank to clear and deposit cheques from their bank to BML accounts, it noted, adding that it has requested copies of MMPRC cheques from other banks and pledging to provide more information after a review.
BML also made public a letter sent from Deputy CEO Shareef to Speaker Nasheed after the threat of a perjury probe.
“The HSBC cheque was deposited after HSBC cleared the payment without asking [BML] to return the cheque to the customer. Such cheques are returned to the [cheque issuing] bank through the Maldives Monetary Authority for recordkeeping. The only record kept at this bank will be the cheque deposit slips,” Shareef wrote .
At Tuesday’s sitting, Nasheed said Shareef’s letter was about bounced cheques and unrelated to questions over non-negotiable cheques. But the bank denied any mention of bounced cheques in information provided to the oversight committee.
The dispute with parliament was caused by miscommunication, BML suggested.
Monday roundup: minister accused of interfering in corruption probe
News in brief: Bank of Maldives posts MVR300m profit
Sunday roundup: tree replantation and unauthorised tourism
News in brief: drug routes and swallowed lego
Weekend roundup: Undocumented migrant workers fill up stadium
Maldives coral reefs show signs of resilience and recovery
Minivan Brief: Weaponised Islam and #MvTreeGrab
News in brief: 150kg of heroin seized en route to Maldives
Maldives NGO under investigation for ‘mocking Islam’ in radicalisation report
News in brief: US$1.5bn deal signed with Islamic finance corporation
Crime1 month ago
Immigration stopped 11 ‘imposters’ with fake passports
Crime3 months ago
Charges raised over street harassment for first time in Maldives
Crime3 months ago
Ex-vice president detained in India after fleeing Maldives
Politics2 months ago
‘Terrorist group’ behind Rilwan’s abduction
Society & Culture2 months ago
Five dead in tragic accident at sea
Politics3 months ago
Maldives backs India’s ‘right to amend laws as required’
Business & Tourism3 months ago
India becomes second largest market for Maldives tourism
Crime2 months ago
Rilwan killed by Maldives group linked to al-Qaeda, presidential commission reveals