ACC cannot terminate Nexbis agreement, court rules

The Civil Court has ruled that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) does not have the legal authority to order the Department of Immigration and Emigration to terminate the border control system contracted to Malaysia’s Nexbis Limited in November 2010.

ACC filed a court case against the Rf500 million (US$39 million) Nexbis system in November 2011, two days after cabinet decided to resume the project.

The cabinet’s decision contradicted ACC’s earlier command to terminate the existing agreement with Nexbis and re-tender the project with the cabinet’s consent.

In December, the ACC forwarded a corruption cases against former Immigraiton Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim and Director General of Finance Ministry, Saamee Ageel to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG), claiming the pair had abused their authority for undue financial gain in awarding the Nexbis project.

However, in Sunday’s hearing Judge Ali Rasheed ruled that the ACC Act clearly allows the commission to investigate corruption cases, but does not give ACC legal authority to issue an order which can annul a formal agreement signed between one or more parties.

He asserted that it is “unfair” to the contractors if ACC can annul an agreement without the contractors’ say, adding that such a decision violates the protection granted to the contractors under the Maldives Law of Contract.

Following the court’s ruling, Immigration Controller Abdulla Shahid told Minivan News that the ruling is subjected to the ACC and it does not directly relate to the department.

He noted that it is too soon to say how the department will proceed with the project.

“We have not even received the documents. We will look into the matter legally,” Shahid said, adding that the court’s decision does not does indicate whether the agreement with Nexbis is “good”.

The 20-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Malaysian-based mobile security solutions provider was to upgrade border security in the Maldives with new technology including facial recognition and fingerprint identification, facilitating the identification and tracking of expatriate workers and eliminating the opportunity to people to enter the country with forged paper documents.

The Maldives currently receives three times its population of 350,000 in tourist arrivals each year. It has lately begun addressing a rise in human trafficking.

The day after the October 2010 signing of the concessionaire contract, ACC announced it had received “a serious complaint” regarding “technical details” of the bid, and issued an injunction pending an investigation into the agreement citing “instances and opportunities” where corruption may have occurred.

After the investigation, the commission deemed the procedure of awarding the project to Nexbis was corrupt, and ordered the Immigration department to terminate the project.

Nexbis shares immediately plunged 6.3 percent on the back of the ACC’s announcement. The company subsequently issued a statement claiming that speculation over corruption was “politically motivated” and had “wrought irreparable damage to Nexbis’ reputation and brand name.”

“Nexbis’ shareholders own and manage multi-trillion dollar assets globally and will not jeopardise their reputation for an investment return,” the company said at the time.

Claiming financial loss Nexbis subsequently threatened legal action over the stalled border agreement, prompting the cabinet to resume the project after reviewing the existing agreement with Nexbis to address the concerns raised by the department.

In earlier interviews with Minivan News, Shahid had expressed concern over both the cost and necessity of the project, calculating that as tourist arrivals continue to grow Nexbis would earn US$200 million in revenue over the project’s 20-year lifespan.

Comparatively, at five percent royalties to the government would come to US$10 million, Shahid said, when there was little reason for the government not be earning the revenue itself by operating a system given by a donor country.

“Border control is not something we are unable to comprehend – it is a normal thing all over the world,” Shahid told Minivan News at the time.“There is no stated cost of the equipment Nexbis is installing – we don’t know how much it is costing to install, only how much we have to pay. We need to get everything out in the open.”

The agreement allows Nexbis to levy a fee of Rf30 (US$2) from arriving and departing passengers in exchange for installing, maintaining and upgrading its immigration system. The company would also charge a Rf231 (US$15) for every work permit card.

Shahid estimates that maintaining a free system given by a donor country would cost at most several hundred thousand dollars a year, and said he was unsure as to why such an agreement had ever been signed.

However, Nexbis said in a statement that neither the government nor the Maldivian public have to pay in exchange for a state-of-the-art border security protection and suggested that “reasonable persons will likely realise that once the hidden costs after are taken into account and adjusted for inflation, the benefits and efficiencies of the Nexbis system will far outweigh the risk, inadequacies and uncertainties of any such alleged cheaper system.”

Nexbis also said it had agreed to review the government’s additional requirements, “and have expressed our willingness to accommodate any such changes within commercially viable terms.”

“While this requires some changes to the solution we ultimately provide, it is within the scope of our agreement to accommodate these changes,” the company said.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s court’s ruling set a precedent on the question raised by some legal experts on whether ACC has the authority to halt or terminate a government project agreement.

Civil court is hearing a similar case against the ACC by Thilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL), which contested the legality of ACC’s decision to halt the US$21 million reclamation project awarded to Heavy Load Maldives, owned by MDP Chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik, on suspicion of corruption.


19 thoughts on “ACC cannot terminate Nexbis agreement, court rules”

  1. Why are people still trying to defend this atrocity against this nation, this should never move forward.

  2. A very clear cut corruption case. The Judiciary is High on something, .. corruption

  3. @Briko
    Its people like you who is destroying this country! very conveniently coming and commenting on minivannews website.

    Fact of the matter is these days is ACC, the media and the opposition has made laymen like you believe that everybody is corrupt except yourself.

    What ACC should have done responsibly is investigate the matter, report their findings to prosecutor general and let the PG prosecute nexbis or immigration and get judiciary to pass a judgement on the case if guilty punish them as per the law.

    But ACC is also just speculating without due process. where do you draw the line on "corruption ah magi fahi vaa gothah koffa oi kammeh"

    when we are born to this world, we also come with the tools to do a lot of bad things, not only corruption but also adultery.

    so the mere fact we have the tools does not mean we would use it in a bad way.

    the point is, ACC should have followed its due process, they failed to do it and went out of their way to create a show for the public trying to prove their own innocence.

  4. Shahid backing up with ACC, since the Immigration Shahid Cabinet paper was used by ACC and even shahid push ACC team to terminate the agreement by court, I does not understand, The cabinet paper to terminate this project was sent to Cabinet also fail because of lack of information and one side document that was done by people who were interested to cancel this project like Ibrahim Waheed & Hamid, every angle they were fail but still they are trying to do what they wants but now must sue from Nex side.

  5. I think shahid you are telling Lies and since Immigration Department know knows you are the person who spread rumors and who submit a cabinet paper for this matter, non of immigration seniors and officers had been seen only you had done that paper also with the people who want to cancel the project and with Iris people, we all knows the truth and it is better not to spread lies and you think you knows about project who said it was given price, non of company given price for this project which you must respect all companies. may be you are getting millions of dollars and that the reason ,.

  6. Better you learn how to handle the matters, you are a person not fit for immigration full of corruption because of deal with ACC hold your cases.. How many cases with proof ACC have but you got deal with border system and that’s why it was hold,… Good work

  7. Honestly Hon. shahid is not a person to save a cent to the government and the nation. I know him personally, when he was released from jail he doesnt have a cent. today he share so many business, Dhoanies and he had used his earlier post for his benefit. Even today he is the same man. He has not changed. The whole is issue is that Shahid did not know about theis BOT project. he keep saying a system. He has mentione a free system he is getting from the Americans, then from Israel, than from India. This was to delay Nexbis. They have approached Nesbis thru many people to get a good sum of money to start the project but Nexbis been a public listed company and most top 10 of Malaysian Companies, they refused. Shahid has then thought its easy with all his negatice statement and reports to the President and the Cabinet the project will be cancelled with full support of ACC. Today ACC is to be investigated for corruption too. Many cases where they leave whom they want and go after whom they want. Infomatics and Iris has said have taken care of Shaahid. From day one he is in contact of Infomatics colombo and Iris to take over the boardecontrol contract. The thing is Shaahid is the most trusted person of this government for Israel connection. He has gone thrice to Israel without endorsing his passport at Israel. If any one does a clean deal they dont have to hid their visit to Israel or even to other countries. Therefore Shaahid counting on the President Nasheed that he now cannot be our of Immigration because these secret deals. Now that even after ONE year THREE months, he and the ACC could not find any corruption on awarding this contract to Nexbi they have created and new stand. Maa agubodee!! well, why than his buddy Informatics and Irix then didnot give a better deal when they bid for the project. Four parties bid for it. Now that Nexbis won, Iris and Infomatics telling Shaahid this so called”SYSTEM” can get very cheap. We are not talking about a system here. Its a BOT project for 20 years. All hardware and software inculding training looking after the full boader security included. Shaahid is thinking others dont know about it? Today the whole system is in a mess. Shaahid and Hassanko keep fighting for each other to collect money while the business people are fedup with the government of handling their labour passes and entery permit. Many companies have been heavily fine. No proper records can be obtained from both Labour ministry and Immigration. Govenment is so busy trying to get big families and infuluential poeple support to keep their grip on power by given them unnecessary high posts and so on. It is sad these poeple talk about he Rayyithun and keep bleeding the public. This is the kind of people whom you can never trust. they will come to their sense in 2013 by then start all kind of lies try get public support for next general election 2013 October. It is sad this type if shelfish people around Anni.Indeed very sad.

  8. Good work …... Shahid you must learn a leasson and now it is time for forign company sue you

  9. Shahid may be a corrupt guy or anything else. I do not know him much but he is right. This deal as is the deal with GMR is not right for the Maldives.

    How can Maldives pay a company over 200 million dollars for 20 years when the whole package itself costs only 6 million dollars?

    Can anyone answer that question?

    The Government should go to a bank and take a loan and then buy a package like this and then operate it themselves.
    This whole thing reeks of corruption. Ilyas at Immigration, Nazaki Zaki in Malaysia were the people involved in this deal.

  10. Why so much angry ? Jealousy Because of these kind of unproof lies used to cancel

  11. We heard after Controller shahid came power immigration x Deputy Controller Hamid and Ibrahim Waheed and Deputy Minister went for the deal Colombo , these Tug was protected by Shahid and non of people knows what was happening and even immigration project officer was suspended and Nexbis technical Documents was sold to Lanka Company and even ACC investigate the document case but when they found out it was lost from shahid they never investigate the Case . All the resources using to cancel what ever former controller did to Immgration .. Because of jealousy Of former controller ... Betraying ..

  12. Manik comment Is excellent comment but the planning council approved the way how to finance because we knows about a tender process , better learn about these process rather make rumors, we heard you were more involve with this case may be your company loose in the bidding process..

  13. The whole reeks to Courrption, the Land and the Sea also courrption Air and Underwater also courrption and Even Computer and Software courrption and it was proof

  14. Manik.. I think you are the person whose behind this game in Immigration, Because your Foreign company Informatics loose and you want to get public support to change the story in your side.

    You must remember because of you guys immigration never had seen bright side, Lot of corruption happening under your leadership.

    Please think about office environment, we knows you got favoritism like that you got favorite companies, and you and your Team went president office to change former controller because your corruption case was in ACC to revenge him, how many days and time corruption happing under leader ship shahid.

    Still your Team Foot step Shahid will follow, Loose from cabinet and Loose from Court means huge Blow, ACC work behind you guys, you guys mention that ACC will go court and will do what ever before ACC announce to media, Insha’Allah The truth will know One Day.

  15. Hassan Manik, I have no interest in this at all. I do not care if they dump Shahid in jail and do anything they want. I am however not interested in paying for the corruption or mistakes of anyone.

    Where do you think this money comes from to pay this? From the people. Already GMR are charging 25 dollars per head, Then you add this amount of money and the cost of flying in and out of Maldives will become too expensive. Tourists arrivals will fall, the economy will crash more and then what.
    Just to help your ego?

    I think you protest too much. Do you have any interest in this?

    I am against corruption and paying anyone too much money. I am against this being given to Sri Lanka or anyone else if we can do it ourselves.
    The same with the airport.

    The court was right in that the ACC cannot order to cancel this. This can be done by a court order. What I am against is corruption either by Shahid or anyone else.

  16. That’s True ACC have some political influence, otherwise they will not spread in media before the investigate Finnish, but they had use media specially Haveeru news paper and had leak some Board Decisions before the Report came out. The Big Rumor’s that was spread in media must be investigate

  17. @Manik

    our immigration traffic can be handled by a “spreadsheet” That NCIT will do for us..

  18. I think shahid hates Ilyas that’s why everything he stop , Nothing is moving in Immigration Department Staffs are frustrated with Shahid, not nexbis or project is fail.

    Shahid & Manik wants to Fail Iylas everything and what he did, It is very sad to tell to Public Shahid is working with MDP guys to spoil Immigration and all the projects last 3 years what Ilyas did, Detention Center , Work Visa , Border Project etc.. Everything he is failing…
    And even Shahid is more powerful to Cabinet, May overthrow the government again..

  19. In Maldives with present system of governing it is better the Government send all there projects, RFP and a draft contract for each project to ACC who then can guide the Government to make those documents more professional .

    Once ACC approves then the Government can sent it to Finance Ministry for Tender! Thilafishi project with Heavy load is moving on but ACC doesn’t get an injunction from the court to stop work because ACC don’t have such proof to convince courts otherwise.

    Good luck to all


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