'Statement of Sri Lankan obtained in violation of the law'

The President's Office has informed the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery that a statement of a Sri Lankan national was obtained wrongfully in the corruption investigation against Youth Minister, Ahmed Mahloof.

The commission obtained the statement of a Sri Lankan national residing in Sri Lanka through the Maldives Embassy in the country. The President's Office earlier ordered the Foreign Ministry to investigate the procedure with which the statement was obtained. A report was prepared by the Foreign Ministry on its findings and forwarded to the President's Office last Thursday, after which the President's Office informed the commission via a letter of violations in obtaining the statement.

The letter sent to the commission clearly stated that the commission had obtained the statement in violation of the law. It further noted that witness statements are obtained from foreign nationals in criminal investigations by making a 'mutual legal assistance request' to the government of the country where the witness is, although the protocol was not followed by the Asset Recovery Commission in this case.

The Asset Recovery Commission worked directly with the Maldives Embassy in Sri Lanka to obtain the witness statement of the Sri Lankan national. The witness was directly contacted by phone by Ambassador Omar Abdul Razzak himself on multiple occasions, and he was not given the opportunity to have a lawyer present when his statement was recorded. The ambassador can be seen on the video call through which the Asset Recovery Commission obtained the statement. The statement was printed by the ambassador, and it was the ambassador who obtained the witness' signature on the document.

During a press conference held on August 12, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said he had ordered the Foreign Ministry to investigate how the statement was obtained. AVAS has learned that the investigation was conducted by bringing Ambassador Razzak to the Maldives. The ambassador was brought to the Maldives for the second time last night over the same matter.

Sri Lankan authorities are also investigating the issue.