Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam on Thursday posted more invoices and receipts from the former presidential palace Theemuge on her Twitter account, following her exposure earlier this month of extravagant spending by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s family.
The lavish expenses were allegedly made out of the Theemuge Welfare Budget – funds that were earmarked for helping the poor upon written request to the former palace, such as requests for assistance to seek medical treatment overseas.
The latest invoices to be made public by the DRP MP included a payment voucher of £1,013 (MVR 25,122) from the Maldives High Commission in the UK for “17 boxes of personal belongings of HEP’s [His Excellency the President’s] family and 1 box to the Office at the Presidential Palace, sent to Theemuge by airfreight.”
Among the other documents uploaded by the MP for Kaafu Thulusdhoo was “a receipt verified by the Audit Office for US$50,000 taken by [former First Lady] Nasreena [Ibrahim] on her Dubai trip,” MP Rozaina tweeted.
Rozaina also posted a credit card statement “for the meal by MAG [Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] family at Thanying Restaurant which cost MVR 21,803.88.”
She posted a second receipt of US$1,414 for a meal at the same restaurant in Singapore “on the same trip by MAG family.”
“Here’s the actual meal receipt for 1 meal by MAG family from ‘Song of India’ restaurant [at a] cost [of] MVR 22,097.7,” Rozaina tweeted with a picture of another receipt.
After MP Rozaina first made the allegations of extravagant spending from Theemuge in parliament, former President Gayoom’s lawyer, Ibrahim Waheed, released a statement insisting that all expenditure out of Theemuge was “in accordance with the rules and regulations” and in line with the former presidential palace’s budget approved by parliament.
Waheed added that all records and documentation of expenditure were left at the palace files when the former president left office in November 2008.
Rozaina however issued a counter statement last week noting that the former president’s lawyer had neither contested the authenticity of the bills and invoices nor denied that the expenses were made out of the Theemuge budget.
In her statement, the DRP MP said that the invoices and bills she made public were “just a few among thousands” at parliament’s Finance Committee.
Pressed by Twitter users when she first uploaded the documents on October 19 as to why she had not spoken about the Theemuge expenses before, Rozaina tweeted, “I thought auditor general was politicising. He sent all the bills this year.”
“Previously it was just a report,” she added. “Documentary evidence was sent to the Majlis only this year.”
Rozaina revealed that parliament’s Finance Committee was currently reviewing the Theemuge audit report.
MP Rozaina’s husband and DRP MP for Raa Atoll Alifushi, Mohamed Nashiz, is the deputy chair of the committee.
The damning audit report (English) of the former presidential palace for 2007 and 2008 – released in April 2009 – stated that 49 percent of the palace’s welfare budget, equivalent to MVR 48.2 million (US$3,750,000 at the time), was diverted from the budget for the poor in 2007 and 52 percent, MVR 44.9 million (US$3,500,000), in 2008.
“We believe this is corruption and misappropriation of public funds,” the former Auditor General had stated.