No decisions made regarding Youth Minister's bribery case: PGO

The Prosecutor General's Office has stated that the office is exploring Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof's alleged bribery case.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) last Wednesday asked the Prosecutor General's Office to raise bribery charges against Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof after a joint investigation conducted by Maldives Police Service, the Asset Recovery Commission and ACC into the MMPRC graft found that Mahloof was a recipient of stolen public funds.

Speaking to AVAS, an official from the Prosecutor General's Office said no decisions have been made by the office regarding raising charges against Mahloof. However, a decision will be made very soon, he said.

A statement issued by ACC on Wednesday detailed the findings of the joint investigation by the police, ACC, and the Asset Recovery Commission. It said that Mahloof had accepted US$ 33,000 while he was an MP to vote in favor of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) bill as well to remain as a member of the then-ruling party, the Progressive Party of Maldives. The statement said Mahloof flew to the Maldives from Malaysia for the sole purpose of attending the parliament sitting held on August 27, 2014, during which the SEZ bill vote was taken.

Messages exchanged between former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor and Ahmed Mahloof following the vote and the date on which a cheque issued by SOF Pvt Ltd was deposited into Mahloof's account show the two events are linked, ACC said.

ACC further noted that Mahloof had claimed the money that was deposited into his account was a currency exchange transaction and a 'Payment Received' document that was said to have been issued by SOF Pvt Ltd was submitted as proof by Mahloof. However, there is no evidence to prove that such an exchange had taken place, and witness statements, as well as other evidence, prove the money Mahloof received was a bribe paid by Adeeb. ACC, therefore, requested the Prosecutor General's Office to charge Mahloof under Article 2, a) of the Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption Act.

ACC also noted that Mahloof had attempted to cover up the corruption by providing false information and documents to ACC. While Mahloof had claimed he paid in cash the equivalent of the exchanged currency, his statement is untrue, ACC noted. Therefore, ACC also requested the Prosecutor General's Office to charge Mahloof under Article 521's a) and b) of the Penal Code as Mahloof made a written false statement with the purpose of misleading a public official.

ACC also requested the PGO to raise charges against Mahloof's brother Ali Mubeen for giving false statements to ACC to defend Mahloof.

Mahloof had earlier said he would step down from his post if any charges are raised against him. The President's Office said Mahloof has been suspended from his post until the Prosecutor General's Office makes a decision on the matter.