President Abdulla Yameen admitted late Monday that the funds obtained by his jailed former deputy Ahmed Adheeb were not clean and that “the money that entered my house was not lawful” in accordance with Islamic Sharia.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of his campaign hub for the Presidential Elections 2018, President Yameen came clean about the state funds Adheeb embezzled from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) which first surfaced in late 2015.
The MMPRC corruption is the largest scandal to rock the Maldives in history where over MVR 1.2 billion, which were acquired via island leases for resort development, were embezzled through the company. A documentary titled “Stealing Paradise” by Al-Jazeera exposed that much of the stolen cash had been delivered to the president’s residence, as claimed by an aide of Adheeb.
Acknowledging for the first time the allegations in Al-Jazeera’s expose that the president had received the embezzled funds, President Yameen declared, “That money did not enter box by box into [my house] alone. Ahmed Adheeb was the one who expended for the people we wanted to elect, by any means, for the parliament. Thus, the money that entered my house was not lawful without a doubt. If the parliament members I mentioned can believe this, I urge them to resign from their posts.”
President Yameen called on the lawmakers, who received funds from Adheeb for their parliament election campaigns, to resign and run for Parliament again by their own means.
“Our party (Progressive Party of Maldives) was not frugal in spending for the parliament election campaigns. The bulk of it was expended by Ahmed Adheeb. Hence, if the funds Ahmed Adheeb had had from day one were unlawful and illicit, we must think deeply about this.”
The president vowed that he will have the stolen funds returned to the state treasury. He added that, faced with such heavy accusations, finding back the embezzled cash is necessary to restore his own honour and reputation as well.
President Yameen further reiterated that his convicted former deputy will be released from jail only after he repays the embezzled money.
Ahmed Adheeb is currently serving a sentence of 33 years for a number of convictions, including his involvement in the MMPRC scandal and for orchestrating an assassination attempt on the president.