'Those involved in MMPRC graft still remain in senior positions' - Ex-governor

Ahmed Naseer, who resigned on Wednesday as the Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has stated that those involved in the MMPRC graft are still employed at senior positions within MMA.

The governor announced his resignation amid huge allegations against him by former head of MMA's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Abdulla Ashraf.

MVR 1.22 billion in state funds were embezzled through Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's presidency.

Speaking at the Parliament's Public Finance Committee earlier this week, Ashraf accused Governor Naseer of attempting to exert influence on the FIU while he was the head of the unit through March 2016 to September 2018.

In a statement released by Naseer following his resignation, Naseer said it is legally necessary to take action against negligent employees if reports that are mandated by law to be prepared are not completed in due time. All rule and regulations were followed in taking action against the employees, said Naseer.

Noting that the MMPRC graft took place before he was appointed as governor, Naseer said the former governor and senior officials of MMA and FIU heads at the time of the graft had not handled the case properly, which became evident in the internal review reports and investigations that were conducted after he assumed the governor position.

While the criminal offences identified in the internal audit were forwarded to the police in March, Naseer said if independent and fair investigations are conducted into matters, he believes enough evidence to implicate those involved can be obtained.

"Before I was appointed as Governor, 1.3 billion in state funds were embezzled under the ministration of then MMA leadership. It has also been identified from MMA records that the leadership held frequent private meetings with then tourism minister", said naseer.

"The same people still remain in MMA positions and that of the state. When I tried to investigate matters, untrue allegations have been made against me while the real perpetrates behind the graft remain uninvestigated", he added.

Naseer said it is vital that the graft is properly investigated and the funds are recovered. The task can only be carried out through restoring trust in state institutions. It is an undeniable fact that there are people within the government who do not wish for this to happen, said Naseer.

"I do not wish for the advancement reached by MMA in the past few years to be undone due to false allegations made against me for political or other reasons. I do not with to allow that opportunity to the people I am speaking of", said Naseer.

A police case against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom was filed after a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) was issued by Bank of Maldives after large amount of funds were deposited into his account as campaign funds ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

Ex-FIU head Ashraf had revealed to the parliament committee that the governor asked Ashraf to meet him on the terrace of the MMA building, where he told Ashraf not to report high profile cases such as that of the president's, with the presidential election looming up ahead.

He also expressed fear of losing his job and being sent to jail, and also voiced concern for his family's welfare, said Ashraf.

While President Yameen was asked to deposit funds received from a certain source to an escrow account set up between the president and the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) until the end of investigation, the President opted to transfer funds from another source into the escrow account. Governor Naseer had ordered not to report the development to authorities, accused Ashraf further.