Deputy Home Minister Ahmed Adeem is under investigation by the police over the alleged embezzlement of MVR2 million (US$129,700) from the state’s pension fund.
A police media official confirmed that an investigation is ongoing in a case involving the pension office, but declined to provide any details.
Adeem had worked in the Maldives Pension Administration Office from 2010 to 2014 before his appointment as deputy minister of home affairs. MPAO officials said that the case was reported to the police after an internal audit.
The pension office is expected to release a statement on the issue.
The new embezzlement allegations have surfaced at a time when former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is facing prosecution on a charge of embezzling funds from resort leases. Millions of dollars paid to the government’s tourism promotion company are thought to be missing.
President Abdulla Yameen had also accused his former deputy of exerting influence over the police force by bribing senior officers. The former police chief and his two deputies were transferred to government ministries shortly before Adeeb’s arrest on October 24.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, spokesperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, said the deputy minister’s case shows how commonplace corruption has become in the Maldives.
“This corrupt government is unfit to combat corruption. President Yameen himself has admitted to the high-level of corruption within the police service, the body to investigate corruption. Corruption within the judiciary is clear to everyone,” he told The Maldives Independent.
“People have lost faith in institutions that is supposed fight against corruption. No one would believe any investigations and verdicts as fair.”
Last week, anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives called on the state to take “extraordinary measures to tackle the scale of grand corruption in the Maldives.”
The local chapter of Transparency International noted that the results of its 2015 Maldives Democracy Survey showed that 72 percent of the public believes that corruption has increased in the past year.
The MDP meanwhile has asked the anti-corruption watchdog to investigate three cases of alleged corruption: the leasing of state-owned apartments to President Abdulla Yameen’s son, a ruling party MP distributing cash on behalf of the state to Addu City flood victims, and cash handouts made by the first couple to single parents.
The pension office was formed under the 2009 pension law to administer the Maldives’ new pension system.
The MPAO manages the Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme, the country’s first defined contributory pension scheme, which is funded through contributions from both employees and employers. The office also distributes an old age pension of MVR5,000 for Maldivians above 65 years of age.
The pension fund has also bought more than MVR3 billion (US$195 million) worth of treasury bills to finance government spending.