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Opposition MPs fail to back up corruption allegations

Claims that the president received stolen money were dismissed as political rhetoric.



Two outgoing opposition lawmakers admitted to lying about President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih receiving stolen money, the Anti-Corruption Commission said Saturday.

MP Ali Arif alleged at a press conference in February that the president accepted MVR32 million (US$2 million) stolen from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation during the previous administration. MP Abdul Raheem claimed to have a list of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party members who were among the beneficiaries of the country’s biggest corruption scandal.

But the pair denied any knowledge of the MMPRC scandal when they were brought in for questioning, the anti-corruption watchdog said in a statement.

Neither were able to substantiate the claims. They admitted to lying during the press conference but sought to justify the claims as political rhetoric, the ACC said.

“Usually nobody speaks the truth in the political sphere,” one of the lawmakers told the ACC, whilst the other cited his source as  “parts of media reports he remembers.”

The watchdog urged politicians to refrain from making baseless accusations.

“We have noticed that people in responsible positions in the state blatantly lie about the corruption scandals in the Maldives to gain advantage politically,” ACC said.

The MMPRC scandal was first exposed in a damning February 2016 audit report, which implicated former vice president Ahmed Adeeb and his associates in siphoning off acquisition fees paid to lease islands for resort development.

According to a long-awaited report by the ACC released last February, several politicians, lawmakers and prominent businesses received large sums of money to their bank accounts from SOF Pvt Ltd, a company that was used to funnel the bulk of the funds stolen from the MMPRC.

Former president Abdulla Yameen, who denied any involvement, is facing trial on money laundering charges over US$1 million deposited to his personal account by SOF.

Yameen previously insisted the theft “did not reach higher than Adeeb,” although the former right-hand man was first implicated in embezzlement from state funds in October 2014 — more than a year before the second MMPRC corruption scandal came to light.