MMPRC scandal: Pres Solih asks govt officials to stay home until investigation is concluded

President Ibrahim Mohmed Solih has asked Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and State Minister of Planning Ministry, Akram Kamaaluddin to stay home, temporarily relieving them of their official duties until investigation into the funds deposited into their accounts is concluded.

In a report released by the Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday on the embezzlement of MVR 1.3 billion through Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC), it was revealed that the funds were deposited into the account of SOF Private Limited, after which the funds were transferred to several other accounts. USD 33,000 was deposited into the personal account of Youth Minister Ahmed Maahloof while USD 30,000 was deposited into the account of State Minister Akram Kamaaluddin.

The President temporarily relieved them from their duties until the deposits are thoroughly investigated and concluded. President Solih has promised a zero-tolerance policy against corruption.

Following the President's order, Minister Mahloof posted on Twitter that he respects the decision of the President.

Meanwhile, Minister Mahloof continues to implore that he has not dealt with any embezzled funds. In a statement released by Mahloof following the publication of the report, he said the financial transaction mentioned in the report occurred over five years ago when his family was running a boutique named "The Jeans" in capital Male'. His younger sibling, Ali Mubeen had handed over hard cash in Maldivian currency to SOF Pvt Ltd in return for equivalent exchanged currency in USD.

The funds were deposited into Mahloof's personal account as "The Jeans" did not have a USD account of its own. Mahloof also posted a copy of the bill given to him by SOF Pvt Ltd for the transaction. He further noted that the ACC has not questioned him over the transaction.

Mahloof further insisted that he has always spoken out against corruption and former president Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's regime. He has not taken part in any shady business, said Mahloof. He voiced his concern that all companies and individuals who have dealt with SOF Pvt Ltd are being labelled as accessories to the MMPRC scandal, while several of the transactions could have been legitimate.

The Anti-Corruption Commission of Maldives (ACC) revealed on Thursday the details of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) scandal, where over MVR 1.3 billion of state funds were embezzled.

The 776 page report was published on the ACC website, which included details of the company used to move around the funds, 'SOF Private Limited', and persons and businesses who conducted business with said company. It also included several statements given to ACC by individuals linked to the scandal.

During the ACC investigation, the Commission looked int the leasing of 57 islands by MMPRC, which revealed that the funds received as acquisition costs of the islands were embezzled. While the State was supposed to receive USD 77 million, only USD 12 million was received by the state. Part of the USD 12 million was also deposited into SOF account.

After depositing the funds into SOF account, the funds were then transferred to 166 different accounts. In their report, AC mentioned the names of the account holders, which includes former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and Vilifushi MP RIyaz Rasheed.

USD 29,000 was deposited into an account under FAM President Bassam Adeel Jaleel's account while, USD 100,000 was deposited into Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Moosa Manik's account. Vllifushi MP Riyaz Rasheed received a whopping USD 424, 255 while Guraidhoo MP Hussain Manik Dhon Manik received a deposit of USD 250,000.

Al Jazeera previously cited a confidential letter sent the country's anti-money laundering body to the police saying the then president received the money in two installments to a private bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB).

In the letter, the FIU said a third party deposited USD648,508 in hard currency into President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's account on September 5. Another USD810,635 was deposited to the same account on September 10.

The whole amount was later withdrawn in hard currency, Al Jazeera said referring to the letter.

The former president continues to deny the allegations insisting that he had done nothing wrong.