State utility company Fenaka Pvt Ltd bought overpriced diesel from companies linked to two former MPs, the company’s new managing director told a parliament committee on Wednesday.
A company in which former Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla has an interest and a company in which Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed has an interest sold diesel at three times the market rate, Ahmed Saeed Mohamed said.
“Fenaka was able to buy diesel for MVR8.25 (US$0.54) per litre from Fuel Supply Maldives [FSM] but bought [it] for MVR28 per litre from these companies. These are companies which [have] interests of a Laamu atoll member and Thaa atoll member,” Saeed was quoted as saying at the parliament state-owned enterprise committee.
He confirmed that the MPs were Abdul Raheem (Adhurey) and Riyaz Rasheed, after being pressed by committee members.
Both were members of the former ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), led by former president Abdulla Yameen. Both failed in their bid for re-election in the April parliamentary polls.
Abdul Raheem is now the leader of the People’s National Congress (PNC) – a newly formed opposition party in coalition with the PPM.
Saeed said payments due to the two companies have been halted until the validity of the transactions is determined.
The details of the sales have been shared with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery, he added.
When contacted by the Maldives Independent, both Abdul Raheem and Riyaz Rasheed vehemently denied the allegations being made against them.
“It’s complete lies. A company that has my shares never sold fuel for 24 or 26 rufiyaa,” Abdul Raheem said.
“It’s complete fabricated lies told to get personal because the government of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is incapable and [doesn’t] know how to run the government.
“I call on Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to resign [and to stop] selling off our sovereignty and [to] go back to your island if you don’t know how to live in Malé.”
Riyaz Rasheed said no company had ever sold diesel for MVR28.
“That’s a blatant lie. Fenaka, or any utility company, has never bought fuel for MVR28 in [the] Maldives. I’m not even talking just about Meridium [his company]. No company has ever sold fuel for MVR28.”
He pointed out that fuel costs are higher on remote islands due to transportation costs, before repeating his claim that no company had ever sold fuel for MVR28.
He challenged Fenaka’s managing director to show proof of his allegations.
“He made a big statement. This is not over. There will come a day [when] he will have to answer [for what he has said],” Riyaz warned.
Riyaz claimed the current administration had used companies linked to supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party to carry fuel to islands.
“[The] STO [FSM] doesn’t have the capacity to transport fuel to all islands. Even now they use companies related to [the] MDP to transport fuel. That’s how it has always been. Not just during Yameen’s government.”
FSM is a wholly owned subsidiary of the State Trading Organisation (STO).
Fenaka was one of several state-owned companies that have been mired in corruption scandals. The company was involved in a foreign exchange scam and corrupt fuel supply and procurement deals that cost millions of dollars in losses. Audits have also shown questionable hiring practices, involving the appointment of activists belonging to certain political parties.
Saeed, however, sought to persuade the parliament committee that the company had reformed.
“I assure this committee, the kind of things done within Fenaka in the previous government [are] no longer possible,” he said.
“If there is any information that something like this [corruption] is happening among any staff, let us know and we will take action. Fenaka will not tolerate such things anymore.”
He said the ACC had been invited to review the new internal controls that are being put in place and extended the same invitation to MPs.