MMPRC corruption: Ex-VP pleads guilty to all charges

Former Vice President of the Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor has pleaded guilty to the seven charges raised against him in the MMPRC graft case.

Adeeb was previously jailed over the MMPRC corruption case where millions in state funds were embezzled. After he was acquitted, several serious charges including money laundering charges were later raised against him after a plea deal was signed between the Prosecutor General’s Office and the former vice president. However, the Criminal Court dropped all charges against him on July 14.

The case is being tried once again by the Criminal Court after the High Court ruled that the case was dismissed by the Criminal Court against the due procedures, and ordered a retrial. The upper court had remanded him into custody for 15 days following the verdict.

A hearing was held Wednesday at the Criminal Court regarding the case, during which the charges against Adeeb were read out. When given a chance to speak regarding the charges raised against him, Adeeb pleaded guilty to all seven charges, and requested the court to deliver a verdict and conclude the case at the earliest.

In his statement, Adeeb said he had already spent approximately five years in jail in convictions related to the case, and said he has repented for his wrong doings. He asked for forgiveness from the Maldivian people for the crimes he had committed during his time in the government. He further added that he believes the current administration has the capacity to properly investigate the graft, stating that some truths regarding the case will remain hidden if he did not bring it to light.

Adeeb said he decided to cooperate with the government in the investigation as he did not believe the former administration had been sincere in investigating the case. He pledged his assistance to the government in any area required.

Adeeb also shed light on when the scandal had first started. In his statement, the former vice president said he believes all those involved in the case, himself included, must be punished for their part in the scandal. He reiterated that the embezzled funds had reached several members belonging to all political parties of the Maldives, including former presidents and parliament members, as well as government entities and independent institutions.

He spoke about former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom who is currently jailed on a money laundering conviction, and said the former president intended to use the funds from the MMPRC graft for political purposes. The instructions were given to Adeeb by the president himself, he added. As per the president’s direct instructions, the funds were utilized for political activities, and was also utilized for activities of then ruling party, proressive Party of Maldives (PPM). The funds also entered the judicial sector and were used as incentives for specific parliament votes, said Adeeb.

The disgraced ex-VP said he was offering cooperation to the state in its investigation not out of duress, but of sound mind. He believes all details of the case must be unraveled and made clear and said that he believes such an act would prevent similar cases from repeating in future. He further said he believes it is his duty to help the state recover the people’ money. The state then accepted the plea deal made between Adeeb and the state.

While Adeeb faces prison time for the charges, his sentence will be lightened as he pled guilty for the charges. The state mentioned the lightest possible sentences for the crimes, after which Adeeb requested for further leniency where possible.

Concluding Wednesday's hearing the judge said the court will maintain the High Court’s order to remand Adeeb due to the nature of the case, A hearing will be scheduled for October 5th to deliver a verdict, said the judge.

Adeeb was previously convicted on corruption charges relating to the leasing of Maabinhura island. While the Criminal Court sentenced him to ten years in jail over the conviction, the verdict was overturned by the High Court, which ordered the Criminal Court to conduct a re-trial. Although the case was appealed at the Supreme Court by the PG, a plea deal was bargained with Adeeb after which the PG agreed to withdraw the appeal from the Supreme Court. The Criminal Court later decided not to conduct a re-trial as the High Court had already established that the investigation of the Maabin Huraa case was wrongful.