Cabinet’s decision last week to review the stalled Nexbis project did not necessarily mean it was going ahead, said Immigration Controller Abdulla Shahid today.
The Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement with the Malaysian-based mobile security solutions provider was to upgrade border security in the Maldives and facilitate the identification and tracking of expatriate workers without the use of potentially-forged paper documents.
However the day after the October 2010 signing of the concessionaire contract, the Anti-Corruption Commission (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.
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.
Shahid said today that following the Cabinet decision the Immigration Department would be “looking into the ACC’s concerns and negotiating with Nexbis.”
“Cabinet did not say the project would proceed, but have announced that it would be reviewed. The ACC’s initial position was that the project would be re-tendered with the consent of Cabinet.”
Shahid acknowledge threats of legal action from Nexbis, but observed there was “nothing we can do on this issue – it was the ACC that intervened.”
He predicted that it would be “some time” before the review was completed.
Local media has claimed that key technical components, such as facial recognition, were missing from the project.
Minivan News is currently seeking comment from Nexbis.