Deputy Speaker and People’s Alliance (PA) MP Ahmed Nazim has claimed Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizzu had failed to either come to a decision on or forward to court some 72 percent of cases submitted to his office by the Maldives’ Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The criticisms levelled by Nazim, who was cleared earlier this year of several corruption charges, were dismissed by PG Muizzu as being inaccurate.
Nazim’s criticisms were raised today during a parliamentary debate on the Anti-Corruption Bill submitted by independent MP Mohamed Nasheed.
“We are seeing that regardless of how much we empower the ACC, the cases they complete through investigation often are blocked from reaching the courts,” Nazim stated, while also pointing out the importance of further empowering the ACC. “As found recently by the Public Finance Committee, 72 percent of the cases submitted to the PG Office by ACC in the past three years remain unattended on the PG’s desk. The PG has neither submitted these to the courts, nor shared his decisions on them.”
Nazim also criticised the appointment of people allegedly involved in ongoing corruption cases to senior government posts.
“Because the cases [in which these individuals are allegedly involved] are not getting prosecuted, they are getting more opportunities to continue with their corrupt actions. I therefore think it is important for us to amend the PG Act once we pass this current bill. We need to define a duration within which the PG must decide on cases submitted to his office. If we want to eradicate corruption, we cannot allow the PG to keep cases untouched on his desk in this manner,” Nazim said, criticizing Muizzu’s performance in office.
“Unless the corrupt are tried in courts and given due penalties, they will not be reluctant to continue with their acts of corruption.”
“Honourables in parliament will know most about corruption”: MP Mohamed Rasheed
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed criticized fellow elected officials, stating that the “Honourables in parliament will know most about corruption”, going on to detail some of the corruption allegations that have been raised against individual MPs during the 17th People’s Majlis.
Rasheed also raised a procedural point while Nazim was speaking, saying he was very happy that “the most corrupt man in the Maldives is talking about the anti-corruption bill.”
The procedural point was overruled by Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.
Rasheed further criticized Nazim, saying: “He is the man who raised the pay of all the judges, gave them above a MVR 100,000. How can we stop corruption when the chair of the Public Finance Committee has thrown all our judges into corruption? Some people who are infamous in the line of corruption are part of this 17th People’s Majlis as ‘honourables’, and this has broadened the chances of corruption.”
MP Ahmed Nazim had four cases of corruption against him, all of which concerned public procurement tenders of the former Atolls Ministry secured through fraudulent documents and paper companies. By February 23rd, the Criminal Court cleared Nazim from all corruption charges, stating at the time that evidence submitted to prove the allegations against him was “not enough to criminalise.”
Meanwhile, ACC Vice President Muaviz Rasheed today stated that issue of cases being delayed at the PG Office was a standing issue, adding that the commission had not calculated any specific percentages regarding workload.
“There are some major corruption cases that are getting delayed, including the border control case and the Disaster Management Centre case,” Rasheed said.
“Perhaps it is just a matter of lack of resources. Probably all the institutions are just facing similar setbacks,” Rasheed added.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu told Minivan News that he did not believe that the percentage rate of the number of cases sent in by the ACC left unattended by his office was as significant as 72 percent.
“The majority of the cases sent to the PG’s Office comes from the police. Less than one percent of this amount is sent by the ACC, the Police Integrity Commission, Customs or other institutions. By December 20, we have closed 75 percent of all the cases that have been submitted here, meaning we have either rejected or sent them to court.”
“Of course, there might be some cases submitted by the ACC among the pending cases, but I don’t believe it would amount to as much as 72 percent,” Muizzu said.
Muizzu added that sometimes “different aspects of the investigation” were submitted to the PG’s office for review. He said that in such instances, his office would neither formally reject or close the cases.
“We do not lag behind compared to other institutions dealing with criminal justice,” Muizzu said.
MP Ahmed Nazim was not responding to calls at the time of press.