The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has said it has begun probing into an alleged business deal struck between Firoz Ghulam Khan – who promised to donate a sum of US$ 10,000 to the Zakat fund last year – and the wife of Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed, Fathimath Afiyaa.
In September 2012, during a press conference held at the ministry, Khan, a Dubai-based Indian Muslim businessman, announced that he would donate a sum of US$10,000 to the Zakat fund every month in a bid to support the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, headed by Sheikh Shaheem.
“Zakat (Alms) is not something given as charity. This is something I am obliged to do. Zakat money is something that should be given to the needy. I have told Minister Shaheem that I will deposit the money to the fund in the first week of every month,” he was quoted saying in the media.
Speaking to Minivan News on Wednesday (March 13), President of the Anti Corruption Commission Hassan Luthfee confirmed that the case was being probed.
“We first noticed it in the media and began our investigation, and later we also received a complaint from an individual. We are now investigating the matter,” he said.
According to local newspaper Haveeru, the business deal was struck on December 25, just three months after announcement of Zakat fund donation, and involved the formation a company under the name ‘Pure Gold Jewelry Maldives Private Limited’, which intended to sell jewelry to resorts.
Citing a paper it claims to have received from the Ministry of Economic Development, Haveeru claimed that the company had 1500 shares in the name of Shaheem’s wife, while Firoz Ghulam Khan’s net share was 103,500. Kareem Firoz had shares totaling up to 45,000.
Speaking to Minivan News, an official from Company Registration Department of Ministry of Economic Development confirmed that a company under the name Pure Gold Jewelry Maldives Private Limited was set up involving foreign parties. However, he did not reveal any details of the parties.
According to article 15(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act passed in 2000, it is an offence for a Minister or his/her spouse to indulge in business with foreign parties.
Article 15(a) of the act states – “The Chief Justice, or the Speaker of Parliament, or a member of cabinet, or a cabinet minister, or anyone having a position equivalent to that, or the Auditor General, or the Commissioner of Elections, or a Judge of High Court, or an Atoll Chief, or the wife or the husband of any such person, or any state employee which the President decides so and their spouses having private business relations is an offence.”
According to the Article 15(c) of the act, punishment for such an offence includes imprisonment, house arrest or banishment for a period not more than 3 years.
Minister Shaheem – who was placed among the top 500 most influential Muslims in 2010 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISC) Jordan – was earlier also accused of sexual misconduct in a video broadcast by local media Raajje TV, in which he was seen speaking with a figure in a hijab before leading her through a doorway.
However the Minister denied the allegations claiming that the video was fabricated.
Minister Shaheem’s phone was switched off at the time of press.