ACC completes tourism graft probe, reviews 600 page report

MMPRC

Security placed outside the MMPRC office.

Maldives graft watchdog has begun reviewing the report of the largest embezzlement of state funds in history.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) vice president Muavviz Rasheed told Mihaaru on Sunday that the members were now finalizing the 600 page report of the USD79 million embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

ACC is yet to confirm a date to when the report would be publicized which has attracted public criticism.

Defending the delay, Muavviz said the investigation has been much deeper than expected.

“We had to question more people based on what we uncovered during the investigation. We have also looked into several facts flagged while we were preparing the report,” Muavviz explained.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

More than USD79 million received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company.

ACC had also questioned former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor over the transfer of funds linked to MPPRC to a private account of incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Adheeb was convicted and sentenced to eight years for misappropriating acquisition fees paid by a foreign company for the 50-year lease of a lagoon in the capital atoll.

President Yameen had been questioned by the ACC over a transaction that a company involved in the MMPRC scandal had made to his personal account in the Islamic Bank.

Police meanwhile had said MMPRC had illegally transferred funds received as acquisition cost by leasing the island for resort development to a company. The funds were then transferred to the accounts of several suspects in the blast, authorities had said.

The former VP was convicted of orchestrating the blast and sentenced to 15 years in prison which added to the 10 year prison sentence he received for a weapons possession conviction a day earlier.

Authorities have also alleged that some of the money had been used to fund the blast aboard the presidential speedboat in September last year.

President Yameen and First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim were travelling to Male from the airport on September 28 when the explosion took place. They had returned home that morning after concluding their visit to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The president was unhurt, but the first lady suffered a spinal fracture.

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