No contact for comment over Al Jazeera documentary, says Maldives govt

President Yameen smiles during a meeting with is cabinet last month. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

President Yameen smiles during a meeting with is cabinet last month. FILE PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

Al Jazeera had not contacted the government for a comment over a new documentary which the Doha based broadcaster claims would reveal mass corruption, theft and abuse of power in the Maldives.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary would be released on August 30, 2016 at the Royal Society of Arts in London.

The invitation for the release of the documentary, titled ‘Stealing Paradise’ has been opened publicly.

The invitation card claims that “Al Jazeera has uncovered new evidence of corruption, theft and abuse of power. The award winning investigative team reveals how a president hijacked a nation and millions of dollars were stolen”.

In response to a question from Mihaaru, international spokesperson of the President’s Office Ibrahim Hussain Shihab insisted that Al Jazeera had not tried to contact the government to obtain a comment for the documentary.

When asked if Al Jazeera had requested an appointment to meet president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Shihab said the governemtn was not even aware of a documentary until the invitation began circulating on social media.

The invitation card has been illustrated with pictures of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and former President Mohamed Nasheed against a background of coconut palms and a speedboat.

It has not yet been confirmed when the documentary was made.

The largest embezzlement of state funds in the history of the tiny island nation meanwhile has been linked to president Yameen.

USD79 million embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

The invitation card claims that “Al Jazeera has uncovered new evidence of corruption, theft and abuse of power. The award winning investigative team reveals how a president hijacked a nation and millions of dollars were stolen”.

The invitation card claims that “Al Jazeera has uncovered new evidence of corruption, theft and abuse of power. The award winning investigative team reveals how a president hijacked a nation and millions of dollars were stolen”.

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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