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Resignation of ports company head prompts reshuffle

Maldives Ports Limited CEO Mohamed Junaid resigned in the wake of a widely publicised feud with a ruling party lawmaker over a disputed fuel supply deal. He has been replaced by the former managing director of the state-owned Maldives Roads Development Corporation.



Mohamed Junaid, the chief executive officer of the scandal-ridden state-owned Maldives Ports Limited, has resigned in the wake of a widely publicised feud with a ruling party lawmaker.

Confirming his resignation on Tuesday night, Junaid told the Maldives Independent that he wants to focus on his personal business.

“I have to be more involved in my personal and family businesses. At the moment MPL is doing well, offloading containers is the fastest it has been ever. So it is all good. MPL has a good future,” he said.

Mohamed Nizar, president of the Privatisation and Corporatisation Board, announced Wednesday morning that Ibrahim Abdul Razzaq Haleem has been appointed as Junaid’s replacement.

Razzaq was the managing director of the state-owned Maldives Roads Development Corporation. Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Nimal has been appointed to Razzaq’s old post.

Nimal was previously the managing director of the state-owned Fenaka Corporation. He resigned in September after a corruption scandal involving the loss of MVR17 million (US$1.1 million) through a foreign currency exchange scam broke in local media.

He was later appointed deputy minister of tourism.

Razzaq was previously the CEO of the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company. He was appointed to the MRDC after the Anti-Corruption Commission sought corruption charges against his predecessor, Ibrahim Nazeem, who was appointed deputy minister of housing.

Junaid had meanwhile been engaged in a war of words with ruling party MP Riyaz Rasheed over a disputed fuel supply contract.

He told the press in October that the lawmaker’s Meridiam Services was selling oil at a price far above the market rate, causing MPL a loss of MVR1.2 million (US$78,000) a month.

The allegations prompted Riyaz to file defamation complaints against six media outlets that covered the MPL CEO’s press conference.

In December, the civil court ruled that MPL was buying diesel from other suppliers in breach of its contract with Meridiam. The MPL promptly appealed the judgment at the high court.

Last month, Meridiam officials told the press that the contract was approved by the MPL’s board of directors, insisting that it had offered the lowest price of all the firms that had submitted bid in 2015.

Within hours, MPL hit back with a press statement, decrying Meridiam’s alleged attempt at misleading the public, and said the 2015 agreement was renewed in 2016 without the board’s knowledge.

The ACC has since launched an investigation into the fuel supply deal. Asked about the dispute today, Junaid said: “Let’s not talk about that.”

The anti-graft watchdog is also investigating the MPL over alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of a small boat in need of repairs for MVR5 million (US$325,000).

The MPL also attracted media attention recently after it emerged that the company paid MVR2.9 million (US$188,000) as legal fees to a ruling party lawmaker’s firm.

MP Ibrahim Riza, a member of the judicial oversight body, was hired after MPL was sued by a local company over non-payment for a tugboat.

The MPL refused to pay MVR13 million (US$84600) for the tugboat, complaining that it was not built according to its specifications.

However, the civil court ordered MPL in December to pay MVR160 million (US$10 million) as compensation to Center Enterprises. The payout includes MVR138 million (US$8.9 million) as accrued fines.

Following the leak of documents showing the high fee paid to Riza’s firm, Junaid told local media that the fee was not excessive as the MPL stood to lose such a large amount with the payout.