Corruption Governance Politics

Watchdog deferred inquiry into US$1m deposited to president’s account

A local company implicated in a historic corruption scandal deposited US$1 million into President Abdulla Yameen’s private account at the Maldives Islamic Bank, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The ACC confirmed the longstanding allegations in a document quietly published on Thursday with summaries of cases closed during August.

Both Yameen and his jailed former deputy were questioned for its inquiry, the watchdog said, but the case was “filed” until the company’s secretary who deposited the two cheques worth US$500,000 each on October 13 and October 15, 2015 could be summoned for questioning.

The police have also been unable to bring back the company’s secretary and shareholders to the Maldives despite issuing an Interpol red notice, the ACC said, claiming the investigation could not proceed without their statements.

The watchdog did not provide any further details.

The allegations first surfaced in February 2016 after the release of a damning special audit of the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, which exposed how nearly US$80 million was funnelled into the bank accounts of companies linked to former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The bulk of the stolen funds – most of which came from resort lease payments – went to SOF Pvt Ltd, owned by Mohamed Allam Latheef ‘Moho,’ a close associate of Adeeb.

SOF said it provided a “brokerage” service to the MMPRC and distributed the funds as requested to the first couple, the ruling party, and senior politicians.

Yameen at the time categorically denied that any of the missing funds were deposited to his or his wife’s accounts. He challenged SOF to provide evidence or a paper trial to back up its claim.

Shortly thereafter, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party published a slip that appeared to show US$500,000 was deposited to the president’s personal account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.

MIB at first refused to disclose details of Yameen’s account but later shared the information with the ACC.

Yameen later insisted the unprecedented corruption scandal did not reach higher than his former right-hand man, who has since been jailed for 33 years on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism.

Secretly filmed confessions with SOF’s owner Moho and two others about delivering stolen cash to Yameen were meanwhile featured in an Al Jazeera corruption exposé released last year.

Moho fled the country days before Adeeb’s arrest on charges of masterminding a bomb attack on the president’s speedboat.

Analysis of leaked statements of a US dollars bank account owned by SOF showed that more than MVR1.3 billion (US$84 million) was funnelled through the front company between May 2014 to October 2015.

Full details are available from the link below:

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