Parliament will consider withdrawing a request to investigate and and seek charges against Bank of Maldives Deputy CEO Mohamed Shareef for allegedly providing false information to an oversight committee, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed announced on Monday.
The reversal comes a day after parliament’s secretary-general Fathmath Niusha told the press that a request would be made to the Maldives Police Service. Parliamentary committees have the constitutional power to “summon any person to appear before it to give evidence under oath,” she noted, without providing details of the alleged perjury.
But Speaker Nasheed revealed at the start of Monday’s sitting that Shareef has since written to parliament pledging to cooperate with the committee’s inquiry.
According to the speaker, Shareef said his testimony was based on available information and claimed to have seen cheques circulating on social media after the committee meeting. He pledged to review the leaked cheques and provide new information.
“My aim is to encourage people to speak the truth at this Majlis, not to punish or investigate people,” Nasheed said, adding that he would consult with the committee chair and reconsider the request for a perjury probe.
Shareef was questioned by the public accounts committee last Tuesday after the Anti-Corruption Commission implicated dozens of BML employees over alleged collusion in the theft of more than MVR1.4 billion (US$91 million) from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
The stolen funds were funnelled through the national bank after cheques paid to the MMPRC were deposited to the accounts of a private company called SOF. Despite the MMPRC cheque endorsement policy requiring the signature of two board members, cheques honoured by BML were endorsed with only one signature.
But Shareef claimed the bank had followed legal procedures and repeatedly insisted that employees were innocent of any wrongdoing. A company board resolution was not required to honour a cheque, he said.
Shareef said BML fulfilled its responsibility by reporting the transactions to the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, an independent agency tasked with flagging suspicious transactions.
But MPs were skeptical of claims that the bank played no role in the country’s biggest corruption scandal.
A day after Shareef appeared at the committee, Speaker Nasheed publicly warned of action against perjury. Committees chairs have been complaining that some officials “do not talk in clear language,” the former president said.
Local media reported last week that contrary to Shareef’s assertions, BML had deposited non-negotiable cheques to SOF’s account. Non-negotiable cheques must only be deposited to the payee’s account.
The anti-corruption watchdog confirmed the reports but the BML continued to deny the allegations.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the bank sought an injunction from the civil court to prevent a presidential inquiry commission from seeking legal action against bank staff for refusing to provide information.
BML sued the Asset Recovery Commission earlier this month. The lawsuit is due to proceed to trial after failure to reach an agreement at the dispute resolution stage.
According to a bank statement leaked by whistleblower Gasim Abdul Kareem, more than MVR1.3 billion (US$84 million) was funnelled through SOF’s US dollar account between May 2014 to October 2015.
Thursday roundup: U-turn on impeachment of chief prosecutor
News in brief: mosquito traps and internet prices
Wednesday roundup: Chief justice challenges watchdog inquiry
News in brief: Single-parent allowance and tenants rights
Tuesday roundup: anti-corruption watchdog probes compensation payouts
Warehouse fire in Maldives capital claims one life
Maldives coral reefs show signs of resilience and recovery
Minivan Brief: Weaponised Islam and #MvTreeGrab
Audit exposes corruption at National Center for Information Technology
More than 400 people displaced in Malé warehouse fire
Crime1 month ago
Immigration stopped 11 ‘imposters’ with fake passports
Crime3 months ago
Charges raised over street harassment for first time in Maldives
Crime3 months ago
Ex-vice president detained in India after fleeing Maldives
Politics2 months ago
‘Terrorist group’ behind Rilwan’s abduction
Society & Culture2 months ago
Five dead in tragic accident at sea
Politics2 months ago
Maldives backs India’s ‘right to amend laws as required’
Business & Tourism3 months ago
India becomes second largest market for Maldives tourism
Crime2 months ago
Rilwan killed by Maldives group linked to al-Qaeda, presidential commission reveals