Govt asks ex-VP to hold off on paying MVR74 mln until ACC review

Maldives government on Sunday annulled the letter asking jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor to pay MVR74 million (USD4.8 million) over the lease of a prominent plot in the capital Male.

In a letter sent by the finance minister on March 28, Adheeb was asked to pay the figure to the government within seven days of receiving the letter.

The letter detailed that the former Nasandhura Palace Hotel plot lease with Galaxy Enterprises in 2010 had not been extended. Adheeb as the then tourism minister had negotiated a deal between the state tourism promotion company and NPH Investment Pvt Ltd which had held the lease holding rights for another 50 years exempting the fee owed to the government.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in its report into the deal had found that Adheeb had abused his powers as the tourism minister to negotiate the deal for which the state had missed out on MVR74 million in fees to extend the lease, the letter read.

The letter further said Adheeb found liable in the ACC's report must pay the MVR74 million to the government within seven days.

"Failure to do so would force the ministry to forward the case to the Attorney General's (AG) office," the letter warned.

However, in a new letter, the finance ministry said the ACC was now reviewing the case which meant that Adheeb would not be liable to pay any sum to the government until the review was completed.

The government had leased the land plot of former Nasandhura and an adjacent plot for fifty years to a company of which president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s brother-in-law Mohamed Manik is a shareholder.

A prominent Chinese firm is developing a city hotel and serviced apartments in the plot.

Adheeb is serving 33 years in prison over two counts of terrorism and corruption including the blast aboard the presidential speedboat which has been now confirmed as a plot to assassinate president Yameen.