Central bank defends Governor; FIU was not influenced by Naseer

Central bank Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has revealed that governor Ahmed Naseer has never influenced the work of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

MMA said the allegations made against the governor in a letter sent to the parliament's Public Finance Committee from the former head of FIU Ahmed Ashraf were false.

In the letter, Ahmed Ashraf made serious accusations against the governor, stating that the governor had obstructed the FIU's efforts to prevent money laundering. He further accused Naseer of preventing the FIU from reporting money laundering accusations against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom to the police.

Regarding the letter, MMA on Tuesday said FIU is an independent unit mandated and established by Law No. 10/2014 (Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act) within Maldives Monetary Authority. FIU is the central national agency for receiving, analysing and disseminating information concerning money laundering activities, terrorism financing activities and proceeds of crime.

While the law clearly mentions the function and responsibilities of FIU, the unit has the authority to conduct analysis on various reports received from reporting agencies and can make decisions based on their findings, said MMA.

While various reporting institutions forward their findings directly to the unit, where it is further analysed, decisions are made based on their findings directly by FIU. MMA has no role in making such decisions, they said in their statement, noting that FIU has independent decision making authority over matters within its responsibility according to the Article 30 of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act.

A report on the MMPRC graft earlier issued by ACC said the main company involved in the embezzlement of the funds, SOF Pvt Ltd's suspicious transactions were brought to the attention of FIU, however, no action was taken against the company on the order of then FIU head Athif.

ACC also revealed that they had enough evidence to implicate Athif for misusing his position of authority to grant undue benefit a certain party. The case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General's Office by ACC for further action.

An audit report into the MMPRC graft revealed that over MVR 1.3 billion acquired through leasing islands for tourism purposes were embezzled through MMPRC. Although suspicious activity that can be linked to money laundering were identified in the the analysis report prepared on the graft by FIU, FIU made the decision on April 6, 2015 not to disseminate the information to any other authorities.