The immigration department claimed Tuesday that former MP Ahmed Nazim’s passport remains with the government despite reports of the former ruling party lawmaker fleeing from Singapore to the United Kingdom last week.
A spokesperson told the press that the former MP, who was handed a life sentence on corruption charges, had traveled to Singapore on a temporary travel document as requested by the Maldives Correctional Services.
“He does not have any other valid travel document,” Hassan Khaleel said.
It is not clear how Nazim could have left Singapore and traveled to the UK on a temporary travel document.
Multiple credible sources told The Maldives Independent last week that Nazim fled to the UK after the home ministry rejected a request to extend his medical leave in Singapore.
The ex-deputy speaker of parliament – formerly a close associate of President Abdulla Yameen before a falling out in early 2014 – was handed a 25-year jail sentence on corruption charges last April.
A spokeswoman for the home ministry said the government is looking into reports that Nazim had fled Singapore.
Khaleel meanwhile dismissed rumours of the police and investigators from the anti-corruption watchdog searching the immigration’s office.
“The ACC and the police have no ongoing investigations in any matter related to the immigration This is false information,” he said.
Nazim’s lawyer, Fareesha Abdulla previously told The Maldives Independent that she was not aware that her client had left Singapore. She confirmed that Nazim went to Singapore with a temporary travel document.
He had traveled to Singapore on December 10 for a spinal surgery.
In the face of mounting diplomatic pressure and the threat of targeted sanctions, the government had also authorised jailed former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim to travel overseas for medical treatment.
But the government last week ordered the ex-defence minister to return to the Maldives after he was photographed speaking with former MP Nazim in Singapore.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has meanwhile withdrawn three remaining cases of corruption against Nazim. The appeals had been filed before the Supreme Court.
Nazim’s jailing by the Supreme Court was unexpected as both the criminal court and the High Court had acquitted him of graft charges.
But the apex court found him guilty of defrauding the state of MVR1.4 million (US $91,400) by submitting bids on behalf of non-existent companies to supply 15,000 national flags to the now-defunct atolls ministry.
The cases also involve the use of “paper companies” to win bids for the procurement of 220 harbor lights, sound systems for mosques and an additional 15,000 flags.
The PG office said it had withdrawn the outstanding cases against Nazim because he was already serving a life sentence.
Public prosecutor Ahmed Hisham Wajeeh said last week: “Since Nazim is already serving life in prison, the state, as in many cases before, intends on assessing if pursuing further criminal charges would be in the best option, especially in terms of time and resources.”
Nazim had previously lodged a complaint with the human rights watchdog over alleged mistreatment by prisons officers in state custody.