Maldives pres aware of truth behind embezzled funds: ex-VP

President Yameen (2nd R) pictured next to his then deputy Adheeb (3rd L) during a government ceremony. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Yameen (2nd R) pictured next to his then deputy Adheeb (3rd L) during a government ceremony. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

President Abdulla Yameen is aware of the truth behind the state funds embezzled via the nation’s main tourism promotion body in 2015, accused jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adheeb on Wednesday.

The former vice president made the accusation in a statement he released in response to President Yameen’s declaration that Adheeb will only be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment once he repays all the funds embezzled via Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) in the largest corruption scandal to shock the country.

In his statement, Adheeb retorted that President Yameen has full knowledge of the total amount of funds stolen through MMPRC and what they were used for. He stated that it was President Yameen who appointed Abdulla Ziyath as MMPRC’s managing director at that time, handed over authority to lease islands for tourism development to MMPRC, and arranged for all island lease fees to be paid directly to the corporation.

Pointing out that the changes made to MMPRC were not powers accorded to the tourism minister, which was Adheeb’s position prior to his ascension to vice presidency, he declared that he was not in charge of the funds that entered MMPRC.

“My responsibility was to find investors to develop resorts in atolls without one,” he said, claiming not to know what happened to the money that entered MMPRC.

The Audit Report on the largest corruption case the Maldives’s history states that a staggering MVR 1.2 billion had been embezzled through MMPRC. In his statement, Adheeb claimed that the bulk of the money was handed over to President Yameen and that none of it was used for any political activities, which he said that even ministers were aware of.

Adheeb further claimed to have met MMPRC’s then managing director, Abdulla Ziyath, in Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre. Ziyath, who is convicted in the same case of embezzlement, had narrated the truth behind the incident, Adheeb said.

The former vice president cited Ziyath that the latter had given his statement to Police which incriminates Adheeb because President Yameen had promised him leniency and the jobs of his family members if he did so.

Thus Adheeb declared that President Yameen’s condition that Adheeb will be allowed abroad once he pays off a sum of money he does not have indicates that the president has no intention of allowing medical treatment for Adheeb.

Adheeb is currently serving a jail sentence of 33 years after he was convicted of being involved in the MMPRC corruption scandal, and for orchestrating an assassination attempt on the president along with other convictions. He has been diagnosed with an internal cyst, kidney stones and glaucoma, for which his family and lawyers have requested permission from authorities to send him abroad for treatment. However, authorities have responded that the risk of Adheeb absconding is too high to allow him to leave the country.

However, authorities have also declared that there are no obstructions to providing Adheeb the best medical care with all resources available in the Maldives. President Yameen also said that as many doctors as necessary may be brought in from overseas to treat Adheeb if he wishes.

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