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Tourism promotion office reopens after shut down

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation’s office was closed for nine days while the police investigated the state-owned corporation’s illegal import of fireworks and alleged corruption in leasing islands for resort development.



The state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation’s (MMPRC) office was reopened this morning, nine days after it was shut down by the security services in the investigation of a blast on the president’s speedboat.

A police spokesman told The Maldives Independent that MMPRC staff have now been authorised to enter the offices on the 4th floor of Velaanage.

“Although MMPRC employees are allowed inside, police personnel are still working inside the office for investigative purposes,” he said.

Following Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, the president said in a public address that his deputy had misappropriated funds from the MMPRC to gain influence over the police force.

The government says the explosion on the “Finifenma” speedboat on September 28 was caused by a bomb targeting the president.

In addition to alleged corruption in leasing islands for resort development, the police are also investigating the corporation’s illegal import of fireworks. Soldiers and police officers had raided the MMPRC office on October 18.

Yameen had said that the fireworks shipment was rushed through customs and suggested that explosives from the fireworks could have been used to make a bomb.

Abdulla Ziyath, a close associate of Adeeb and MMPRC’s managing director, was arrested on Friday night.

An MMPRC staff who wished to remain anonymous told The Maldives Independent today that police officers are inside Ziyath’s office.

Mohamed Adam, the deputy managing director, is temporarily in charge of the office, the employee said.

The MMPRC is tasked with promoting Maldives tourism. An employee previously told The Maldives Independent that all roadshows and tourism promotion trips have been cancelled, with the exception of travelling to the World Travel Market fair scheduled to take place early November in the UK.

Two new members were meanwhile appointed to the MMPRC’s board of directors this week. The privatisation and corporatisation board reportedly approved the president’s nominees, Haris Mohamed and Ahmed Shareef, to fill two vacancies on the five-member board.

Neither Ziyath nor other MMPRC board members have been dismissed so far.

President Yameen has meanwhile has asked Auditor General Hassan Ziyath to conduct an audit of the MMPRC, covering the period from November 2013 to the present.

The auditor general is a former ruling party parliamentary candidate and the brother of the jailed MMPRC managing director.

According to Ziyath’s lawyer, he is accused of corruption in leasing islands and possession of official letters from the police.

Hussain Shameem, who also represents the vice president, said Ziyath has not been questioned over the MMPRC’s fireworks import so far.

Shameem filed an appeal at the High Court yesterday challenging the legality of Ziyath’s arrest. President Yameen had said that Ziyath was arrested because he chose to exercise the constitutional right to remain silent.