Attorney General seeks criminal probe against ex-housing minister

Attorney General has requested Maldives Police Service to conduct a criminal investigation into former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu over his actions in the arbitration case filed against the government by Noomadi Resorts and Residence.

A statement released by the Attorney General's Office on Monday said Noomadi Resorts presented Dr. Mohamed Muizzu as a witness against the state who gave a statement against the government while he had defended the state in same case during his ministership.

When the arbitration case was first filed on December 11, 2017, Dr. Muizzu took part in the discussions and decisions were made by the state on how to handle the case with the involvement of Dr. Muizzu in the capacity of the government's housing minister, said the statement.

After the minister lost his position on the government on November 17, 2018, Dr. Muizzu on 14 June 2019 gave a statement as a witness against the state produced by Noomadi in their arbitration claim. His statement against the state contradicted his previous stance on the issue while he was minister, said the statement.

The Attorney General's Office said Dr. Muizzu had previously given a statement to the arbitration that the Phase I agreement between the government and Noomadi was terminated on former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's wishes, however, he later changed his statement to state otherwise.

Dr. Muizzu's statement against the government in the arbitration claim has caused additional challenges to the government in defending itself in the claim, said the Attorney General's Office.

Therefore, the Attorney General's Office has requested MAldives Police Services to investigate if Dr. Muizzu had misused his position of authority, released confidential information or gave false information to official authorities, said the statement.

Dr. Muizzu was previously summoned to a parliament committee and questioned regarding the issue. However, he declined to give direct answers to the committee's inquiries. The committee is also seeking police action against Dr. Muizzu on claims that he gave false information to the committee.

Noomadi Resorts and Residences was contracted to construct 600 housing units under the private villa model on January 20, 2011, and to develop 500 housing units, Police Academy Phase I, and sewerage systems in three islands on May 30, 2013. Both agreements were terminated by the previous government, claiming that the company had violated the terms of the contract. However, the company denied the claim.

The company filed a claim for US$155 million as compensation, and other arbitration charges at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The current government reached a settlement agreement with the company on August 25, according to which the government will pay the company US$ 55 million as compensation.

The decision to settle the arbitration issues out of court was made after extensive discussion with the settlement committee established by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.