ACC probes central bank negligence over tourism graft

Maldives' graft watchdog has launched an investigation into the central bank's failure to report suspicious financial transactions linked to the largest corruption scandal in the history of the archipelago.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The official audit report into the scandal, had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company called SOF Private Limited with strong links to the now jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

In the first detailed statement over the investigation into the scandal, Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) said the banks had forwarded suspicious financial transactions linked to the MMPRC corruption to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA).

According to the statement, the FIU had ruled that it had found no indication of any suspicious activity linked to money laundering or terrorism funding.

However, the ACC investigation had found that FIU had discovered that large amounts of MMPRC funds had been funneled through the account of a private company without the financial strength to conduct such large transactions.

ACC said despite knowledge that the private company was financially incapable of transactions of such large amounts, FIU had not notified the relevant authorities.

The statement said the ACC would pursue prosecution after the completion of the investigation.

Maldives' main bank, Bank of Maldives (BML) had earlier insisted that it had reported suspicious transactions linked to the scandal.