Losses in MMPRC graft exceed MVR 4 billion: pres commission

The Asset Recovery Commission has revealed that a state suffered a loss of over MVR 4 billion due to the MMPRC corruption scandal.

Millions in state funds were embezzled in the largest corruption scandal recorded in the Maldives to date, and involved several high profile figures including former president Abdulla Yameen and former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.

Speaking at a press conference held on Thursday, the asset recovery commission’s president Ahmed As-ad said the former government leased 37 islands and 12 lagoons unlawfully at prices lower than its market values through Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company, MMPRC. Had the 37 islands, not including the lagoons, been leased at market rate, the government would have earned at least MVR 3.4 billion, said As-ad.

The commission further noted that although there is no specific valuation method to calculate the monetary worth of lagoons, the losses suffered by the state would exceed at least MVR 4 billion when the estimated value of the lagoons are included.

The Auditor General’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has valued the losses suffered by the state due to the scandal at US$ 77 million. As-ad pointed out that the amount quoted by the two authorities is correct at under-valued prices, but would multiply to US$ 220 million if the market values are considered. The state received only a quarter of what it should have received, said As-ad.

As-ad further added that the MMPRC corruption scandal was a failure of the state’s system. All institutions of the government were involved in the scandal, said As-ad.

Adding that the island nation’s most valuable resource, its islands were misused to carry out the corruption, As-ad said the whole graft was pre-planned and orchestrated with the involvement of multiple parties. Although ACC previously said 155 individuals had received funds through SOF Pvt LTd, the main company used to front the corruption, the number rises well above 300. As-ad said there is a chance that the numbers will continue to increase as the investigation progresses. The 300 names are currently being shortlisted based on the amount of money they received, their position within the government and other available evidence. The work is being carried out with the help of ACC, the police, Attorney General and the Prosecutor General, said As-ad.

Two cases have been forwarded for charging, and additional 5 cases will be forwarded for charging in the next two or three weeks, said As-ad. The new cases will make it evident that the commission was unbiased in its investigation and carried it out with integrity, he added.