Mohamed Aslam, a former housing and environment minister, has repaid MVR312,928 (US$20,254) spent from the ministry’s budget on his mobile phone expenses between June 2009 and August 2011.
Aslam reimbursed the state Thursday in compliance with a civil court judgment last month. He told local media that he would appeal the court’s decision as he had used the phone for official business.
The court ordered Aslam on June 24 to repay the amount within five months.
The phone bills were flagged in the housing ministry’s 2011 audit report. Aslam told the Maldives Independent at the time that the expenses were “not unreasonable.”
In lieu of accepting a government phone, Aslam said he changed the billing address on his personal mobile phone as instructed by the ministry’s top civil servant.
“I happened to be the minister who travelled most frequently and there have been times where I have been out of the country for weeks at a time,” he said.
“On those occasions I had to take calls from overseas, I had to answer them and roaming is very expensive. In that regard, the total cost was not unreasonable.”
Aslam was the housing and environment minister in former president Mohamed Nasheed’s cabinet from November 2008 to February 2012. The hefty phone bill was a campaign taunt during his unsuccessful run for the Maafanu South parliament seat in 2014.