President Abdulla Yameen has nominated a family member of a state official implicated in corrupt transactions worth US$6million for the post of Auditor General (AG).
Nominee Hassan Ziyath is the brother of Managing Director of state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Abdullah Ziyath.
In a damning audit report on October 29, incumbent AG Niyaz Ibrahim accused Abdulla Ziyath of illegally pushing through a US$6million loan from state funds to two private companies.
The report was released a day after ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MPs brought a surprise amendment to the Audit Act requiring the reappointment of Auditor General within 30 days. The President’s Office opened up applications for the position immediately.
Niyaz has only served three years of his seven-year term.
The PPM holds a majority in parliament with 43 of the total 85 MPs, while coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance controls five seats.
Hassan Ziyath is currently the chairman of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). He contested in March’s parliamentary elections for Malé’s Hulhuhenveiru constituency on the PPM ticket.
The MMPRC audit also implicated Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb of involvement in the corrupt transactions and said the loans were issued to companies owned by Adeeb’s family members.
Adeeb has condemned the report as politically motivated, and accused Niyaz of colluding with MP and former Deputy Speaker of Majlis Ahmed Nazim to discredit him after he refused to back Nazim for the Majlis Speakership in May.
In an interview with newspaper Haveeru, Niyaz dismissed Adeeb’s claims and accused Adeeb of threats and harassment following the Auditor General’s decision to look into the case.
The independent AG position was created in 2008 and vested with the power to audit all state offices, institutions funded by the state, and companies in which the state owns shares.
The auditor general’s position receives a salary equivalent to the president’s salary, currently MVR100,000.
The country’s first independent Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem was sacked by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s former party Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) in 2010 for allegedly using state funds to buy a tie and visit Baa Atoll Thulhadhoo Island. Gayoom currently heads the PPM.
During the multiparty elections of 2008, Naeem had published several audit reports revealing high levels of corruption within Gayoom’s government.