The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has asked the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office to press corruption charges against former state minister for the Upper South Province, Umar Jamal, as well as his two deputies for authorising expenses in violation of public finance regulations.
Jamal and his deputies – Mohamed Shareef of Gongali, Gaaf Alif Villigili, and Mohamed Shareef of Fusthulhaage, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo – are accused of abuse of authority to unduly benefit a third party by releasing MVR118,522 (US$7,686) from the province office budget in 2009 and 2010 as financial assistance for sports tournaments and friendly matches.
The ACC investigation was prompted by a complaint alleging that MVR9,000 (US$584) was spent out of the Gaaf Dhaal atoll office budget in April 2010 for a football team from Gaaf Dhaal Gahdhoo to travel to a match.
Moreover, one of the deputies was accused of hiring a boat from Thinadhoo for more than MVR15,000 (US$973) in March 2010 to go to Villigili for a football match.
The commission found that MVR30,764 (US$1,995) in 2009 and MVR87,758 (US$5,691) in 2010 was spent to purchase sports equipment and cover transportation costs for teams to travel between islands for matches.
The expenditure was made out of budget items earmarked for fuel expenses, domestic travel, financial assistance for efforts beneficial to the community, cash prizes from the government, and overtime pay, the ACC found.
The ACC also discovered that MVR780,866 (US$50,640) in excess of the allocated amount was spent in 2009 out of the five budget codes.
The commission noted that public finance regulations prohibit expenses out of the office budget for sports tournaments – even if a state institution was fielding an office team – as well as the purchase of sports items in the absence of a budget item for sports.
“And authorisation should not be given for expenditures that are not specified in the budget,” the press release stated.
Province offices headed by state ministers for home affairs were created under the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed as part of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party government’s short-lived policy of dividing the country into seven administrative provinces.
The Upper South Province comprised of Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaal atolls.
The province model was however scrapped from the government-sponsored decentralisation legislation by the then-opposition majority parliament, which passed the bill with the traditional 21 administrative atolls.