Former Thilafushi Corporation head given 3 years for corruption

Former Thilafushi Corporation Managing Director (MD) Ibrahim Riyaz was sentenced to jail for 3 years by the Criminal Court today after being found guilty of using his influence to gain unlawful advantages in the Thilafushi land reclamation project.

The Criminal Court sentence read that Riyaz had denied corruption charges, claiming that the decision to award the project to Heavy Load Maldives was made by the company board of directors.

Heavy Load is owned by the family of Maldives Democratic Party MP and Deputy Speaker of the Majlis ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

The troubled reclamation deal – awarded in 2010 as part of the Thilafalhu Industrial Zone project – faced repeated delays due to both technical and financial reasons.

The Criminal Court today countered Riyaz’s defense  saying that he was not able to prove that the decision was made by the board of directors, and accused the former MD of making the decision himself in order to gain personally.

The decision to award the contract to Heavy Load Maldives was made against the rules and regulations of the company as well, read the sentence.

The mega-construction company was paid a mobilisation fee of MVR 38.6 million (US$ 2.52 million) by the Thilafushi Corporation in the project with the whole project reported to be worth US$ 21 million.

Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) officials ordered the project halted in February 2011, citing the potential for corruption with the deal – though Moosa himself at the time alleged the decision to have been politically motivated.

The Thilafushi Corporation later sued the ACC for the decision to stop the work.

The state-owned corporation reportedly told a Majlis subcommittee last year that it had lost MVR650 million (US$42 million) as a result of the failure of Heavy Load to reclaim the required 152 hectares within the 6 month period agreed.

Criminal Court also charged two other executives of Thilafushi Corporation for participating in the corruption but were unable to prove their involvement.