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Central bank officials questioned behind closed doors

The officials were summoned for a parliamentary inquiry.



The central bank’s governor and former heads of the Financial Intelligence Unit were questioned at a closed-door meeting of parliament’s public accounts committee on Tuesday.

The officials were summoned for an inquiry into the Anti-Corruption Commission’s report on the theft of US$90 million from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a corruption scandal of unprecedented scale in Maldivian history.

Reporters were barred entry after the oversight committee’s members decided to hold the meetings in secret.

According to the long-awaited ACC report released last month, the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit failed to take action when resort acquisition fees paid to the MMPRC were diverted through a private company’s accounts at the Bank of Maldives and Bank of Ceylon.

The FIU –  an independent agency tasked with flagging suspicious transactions after collecting and analysing information about money laundering – was alerted to large sums of money transferred and withdrawn by SOF, the company that was used to funnel stolen funds, the report stated.

But the watchdog failed to report the transactions to police as required by the anti-money laundering law.

It was clear SOF was not paid in return for any goods or services and the company refused to provide details when banks made inquiries, the ACC report noted.  

While the committee meeting was ongoing at parliament, police announced that Maldives Monetary Authority governor Ahmed Naseer was under investigation on suspicion of interfering in the lawful duties of former FIU director Abdulla Ashraf, who was removed from the post last year.

According to Sun, Ashraf had told the public accounts committee that he was asked by the governor not to share details of “high-profile cases” with the police.

Ashraf was transferred out of the FIU after he informed police of US$1.5 million deposited into former president Abdulla Yameen’s private bank account before the September 23 presidential election.

The former president was detained last month for a trial on money laundering charges stemming from over US$1 million deposited to his personal account by SOF.