The special audit of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) reveals that over 1.2 billion Rufiyaa was embezzled through the corporation. This translates to 79 million US dollars.
The audit report published today has officially made this the biggest corruption case in the country’s history.
The embezzled amounts include some 65.01 million dollars collected as lease inquisition cost, which was deposited to accounts of private individuals, 6.31 million that was owed to the corporation from some transactions made with private companies in the guise of foreign exchange, 6.15 million dollars that was owed to the corporation as repayment of loans granted to private companies and 1.90 million dollars that had been deposited to accounts of private individuals without specifying any reason.
Thereby the state is owed 70.17 million dollars by SOF Private Limited, 7.50 million dollars by Millennium Capital Development, 1.15 million dollars owed by Montillion International Private Limited and 550,000 dollars deposited to bank accounts of a private individual and two private companies.
Millennium Capital Development is a company where Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s relative Haamid Ismail has vested interests. SOF Private Limited and Montillion International Private Limited are companies where Former VP Adeeb’s ally Mohamed Allam Latheef (Moho) has vested interests. Moho is wanted In connection with the September 28, 2015 explosion on presidential speedboat Finifenmaa.
The audit report also stated that the then Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb, who later went on to become Vice President briefly, had released land, lagoons and islands where resorts, hotels and yacht marinas could be build without a competitive bid. This is in contradiction with provisions in Article Five of the Tourism Act.
The report also recommended that the loopholes in the Tourism Act that allow the leniency provided in the legislation to be abused, need to be covered.
According to the report, 59 sites were leased via MMPRC for development of tourist resorts, yacht marinas and hotels. However, only 53 of these sites were leased after making agreements between the Ministry of Tourism and MMPRC. Six other sites were leased by MMPRC, without making agreements with the Ministry of Tourism.
Of the 96.86 million dollars that the corporation received as lease acquisition cost from 59 sites, MMPRC had issued payment receipts for 79.61 million dollars. 65.01 million dollars were deposited in private bank accounts while 1250 million was deposited in MMPRC’s account and 300,000 dollars were deposited with Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA).
MMPRC has issued receipts that they had received 1.80 million dollars in cheques. The report however stated that these amounts were not deposited in any bank account. The report also said that MMPRC was not able to clarify why some payments they were owed were paid in amounts lesser than what is declared by the Ministry of Tourism as lease acquisition cost.
The report signed by MMPRC’s Former MD Abdulla Ziyath’s brother Hassan Ziyath stated that agreements were made regarding one lagoon and two plots, to the effect that MMPRC would not be owed anything.
The special report also noted that although the Audit Office had requested financial reports to be submitted, it had not been done. They also state that foreign exchange transactions and issuing loans, were carried out in a way that could facilitate corruption.
The Auditor General also surfaced allegations of forgery.