The Criminal Court of the Maldives has postponed the trial of Deputy Leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) and Deputy Speaker of the parliament MP Ahmed Nazim to November this year.
A statement from the Criminal Court said the delay in the trial, which began earlier this year, was caused by a “lack of information and necessary documents from the Home Ministry.”
The Criminal Court said it had now received the necessary pending document and that the trial would resume on November 9.
The Criminal Court attempted to summon Nazim in July, however he was being held in police custody and failed to receive the summons, the statement said, adding that it was only able to hold two of the scheduled five hearings.
In May last year police raided Nazim’s office, seizing a number of documents and hard drives as part of a special operation to investigate allegations of corruption.
In August last year, police concluded investigation into corruption charges concerning the former Atolls Ministry and sent five cases to the prosecutor general’s office.
On conclusion of the investigation, police charged former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed and Nazim with corruption, with Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef alleging that numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and cheques had been forged, and that Nazim had personally benefitted from over US$400,000 in fraudulent transactions.
Police investigations focused on three main points in the ministry’s audit report for 2007 and 2008: the purchase of mosque sound systems for over US$138,000; the purchase of 15,000 national flags for over US$110,000; and the purchase of 220 harbour lights at a cost of over US$151,000 from businesses with close ties to Nazim.
According to Atheef, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem, who was director of finance at the ministry at the time, actively assisted the scam.
Saleem has now joined the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
“In these cases, money laundering was involved,” Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef told Minivan News last year.
“I wouldn’t say money from these transactions was directly deposited to the accounts of Abdulla Hameed or Ahmed Saleem.’’
Police claimed Hameed played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, and approving bid documents for unregistered companies and discriminatory treatment of bid applicants.
The first two cases of the ministry’s audit report reported by police revealed similar fraudulent transactions to purchase 150 harbour lights for over US$157,000 and the purchase of 15,000 national flags worth US$110,000.
Nazim has previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the former ministry.
During a hearing in March, State Prosecutor Abdullah Rabiu said Nazim was Managing Director of Namira Engineering and Trading Pvt Ltd when the company’s equipment and staff were used to create fake letterheads and submit proposals on behalf of unregistered companies.
More recently in July this year, Nazim and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa were arrested on suspicion of bribing MPs and a civil court judge, however Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed ruled that there were no reasonable grounds to grant an extension of the MPs’ detention based on the evidence presented by police.
“Both of them were arrested last night on charges of bribing a civil court judge. According to the information we have, they offered US$6,000 and a two-way ticket for a trip abroad, and exerted influence on a civil court case,” claimed the police lawyer in court.