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Maldives central bank governor resigns

Naseer was accused of unlawful interference with the anti-money laundering watchdog.



Ahmed Naseer has resigned as governor of the Maldives central bank, two days after he was questioned by a parliamentary committee over alleged interference with the anti-money laundering watchdog.

The president’s office spokesman confirmed to the Maldives Independent that Naseer submitted his resignation letter on Wednesday. The governor reportedly met with staff and informed them of his decision earlier in the day.

Naseer was nominated to the post by former president Abdulla Yameen in August 2017. His nomination was approved with just 33 votes from the 85-member parliament amid an ongoing opposition boycott.

In the wake of Yameen’s heavy defeat in September’s election, Naseer was accused of removing the Financial Intelligence Unit’s top official, just days after he reported suspicious transactions involving the president.

The FIU functions as an independent agency within the central bank.

On Monday, former FIU boss Abdulla Ashraf testified to parliament’s public accounts committee and accused Naseer of “obstructing” his duties in reporting two suspicious transactions by then-president Yameen – the transfer of US$1 million to an escrow account set up by the Anti-Corruption Commission, and US$1.5 million deposited into his account before the September 23 presidential election.

Shortly after he notified police about the second case on September 13, Ashraf said Naseer called and complained “because I sent it without informing him.” The governor then sent him a note on the following work day to arrange a meeting at the office terrace.

The FIU boss was asked to come without his phone.

On the following day, Ashraf was transferred to a different post.

Appearing at the public accounts committee, Naseer admitted to meeting Ashraf on the terrace but categorically denied obstructing the FIU’s work.

He also admitted to calling Ashraf on September 13. Naseer revealed that he had received a call from president Yameen an hour after the FIU reported the US$1.5 million transaction to police.

But he insisted that Ashraf was not transferred over the incident. The decision was based on suspicions of leaking confidential information, he claimed.

The committee hearings with the central bank officials prompted mockery and calls for Naseer’s removal on social media.

Former president Yameen is meanwhile on trial on charges of laundering US$1 million deposited to his personal account by SOF, a company that was used to funnel the bulk of US$90 million stolen from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation during his administration.