The story of corruption under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has given his image a massive beating, with even former allies now openly criticising the longtime autocrat of nepotism, writes CNN-IBN correspondent Sumon K Chakrabarti for Himal Southasian magazine.
“The Grant Thornton investigation was carried out mostly in Singapore, and the report, when it came out in September, was not just a serious indictment of Gayoom’s family members – primarily his young half-brother, Abdulla Yameen – but also a fascinating exploration of how autocracies often fall back on blood brother dictatorships to do business. In this case, that ‘brother’ was Burma. Meanwhile, Gayoom’s sudden foray back into politics seems to be with the specific intention of strengthening his own position in order to be able to more effectively deal with the revelations about the extent to which corruption took place during his decades in power.
“‘We had a whiff of it for some time, but we had no idea about the scale of the con job,’ a minister in President Nasheed’s cabinet, on condition of anonymity, told this reporter in Male, in the aftermath of the Grant Thornton report. ‘The scale, as we know now, is mind-boggling. What is now becoming clear is that “ghost ships” regularly left Singapore in the name of delivering oil to the Maldives – but never arrived here.’ He continued: ‘We are a tiny nation, and our oil consumption is very small. But the State Trading Organisation (Singapore) used to buy oil in bulk … and sell it either on the black market or to Myanmar.’”