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MDP candidates disclose personal finances

Former president Nasheed declared over MVR5 million (US$324,000).



The personal finances and assets of Maldivian Democratic Party’s candidates for parliament were made public on Friday.

Asset disclosure forms submitted by 85 of the ruling party’s 86 candidates have been posted online, including the financial statement of former president Mohamed Nasheed for the first time.

Nasheed declared MVR5.4 million (US$349,288) as assets.

More than MVR5 million was in a joint account at the State Bank of India with an undisclosed partner. Local media speculated that the co-owner was likely to be former first Laila Ali, a shareholder in her family’s Alia Investments, one of the largest companies in the country.

Nasheed also declared £20,000 in an account under his name at the Lloyds Bank in the UK in addition to MVR295 (US$19) in a Bank of Maldives account and MVR19,000 (US$1,228) in a Maldives Islamic Bank account.

His assets included a 4,700-square-feet plot of land in Laamu atoll and a 2,000-square-feet plot on the island of Thulusdhoo in Kaafu atoll.

Nasheed only reported as income a monthly pension of MVR100,000 (US$6468) he receives as a former president. State benefits were reinstated in November after his terror sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court.

The MDP candidates join a handful of independents as the only candidates to have disclosed their assets.

Several independent candidates released their financial statements in early January. Unlike the MDP candidates, the detailed statements included the income and assets of their immediate family.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his cabinet also publicly disclosed their assets in January, the first time it was done by any administration. But the assets and income of spouses have yet to be made public as pledged in the new government’s 100-day action plan.

The constitution requires the president, ministers and lawmakers to annually submit to the Auditor General “a statement of all property and monies owned by him, business interests and all assets and liabilities.”

But neither former presidents nor the majority of lawmakers made information about their personal finances available to the public.

In 2017, a report by Transparency Maldives identified the weaknesses of current asset declaration procedures, which it warned “increases the risk of corrupt officials using the names of their family and relatives to hide their assets, which makes cases of illicit enrichment and conflicts of interest invisible and harder to detect.”

It also highlighted the importance of an external agency to conduct a verification process.