Central bank officials under ACC scrutinization

Maldives' graft watchdog is seeking prosecution against several senior officials of central bank, Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) over the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the island nation.

The much awaited report into the Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) scandal publicized last week had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company. The funds received by MMPRC were distributed through a private company called SOF Private Limited.

The Anti-Corruption Commission on Monday released a press statement noting that several untrue information regarding the report was being circulated upon its publication.

They further stated that the Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) earlier received by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of MMA contained information based on suspicions of money laundering and terrorism-financing.

Based on the evidence obtained by ACC, it can be concluded that the STR was not forwarded for further investigation to any investigative authorities by MMA as the central bank was influenced by a third party. Therefore, the ACC will now be investigating the negligence as a separate case, and will be forwarding the case for prosecution of involved suspects.

While the ACC did not disclose which officials from MM are being prosecuted, former governor and then head of FIU, Ahmed Athif Shakoor, as well as Senior Manager Abdulla Ashraf were previous questioned, with their statements included in the ACC report.

The investigations of FIU confirmed that the funds deposited to the account of SOF Pvt Ltd is not income generated by services provided by the company, and that the transaction of SOF Pvt Ltd point to money laundering.

The investigations also confirmed that the funds were deposited into SOF Pvt Ltd's account by MMPRC, and the likelihood of the fund being the outcome of corruption is extremely high, noted ACC further.

ACC recently came under fire for not publicizing the report on the MMPRC scandal earlier. In their statement, ACC said it is not usual practice for the reports of ACC investigations to be publicized, however, the report was shared with all relevant authorities upon completion.