The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has asked the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) to press corruption charges against former Commissioner of Police Adam Zahir over the alleged embezzlement of MVR65,817 (US$4,268) from the police budget.
According to the ACC, the funds were released in 2008 to purchase return tickets for Adam Zahir’s wife from Manchester, England to Male’ to attend a function to mark the police golden jubilee.
The ACC investigators however found that Zahir’s wife was not out of the country at the time.
While a payment voucher for the trip included an Emirates Airlines ticket slip dated April 7, 2008, immigration records showed that Zahir’s wife was in the Maldives between March 26 and April 9 that year.
Immigration records also showed that Zahir’s wife did not travel on Emirates Airlines at all in 2008. The ACC discovered that she had arrived in the Maldives on a British charter flight from First Choice Airways.
The commission therefore asked the PGO to prosecute the former police chief for abuse of authority and embezzlement.
A senior officer of the now-defunct National Security Service (NSS), Zahir became the first Commissioner of Police when former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom established the Maldives Police Service as a civilian law enforcement agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
During the reform movement led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Zahir was accused of overseeing torture and custodial abuse, making his resignation a perennial opposition demand.
He resigned in November 2008 after the election of President Mohamed Nasheed.
Wikileaks cables from the American Embassy in Colombo meanwhile revealed that the former police chief was seen as part of the “old guard” opposed to political reforms under President Gayoom.
In December 2005, Sri Lankan police raided the Colombo office of the then MDP-affiliated Minivan News publication upon request from the Maldivian authorities, which alleged that Minivan staff were engaged in seditious activities and gun-running.
“In a December 29 meeting with poloff [political officer], an American contractor who works with law enforcement officials in Colombo said that his police contacts informed him the request for the investigation had been signed by Maldivian Chief of Police Adam Zahir and sent to the Interpol Liaison Desk. The contractor said the Sri Lankan police suspected the charges were politically motivated, but were compelled to follow up because of their serious nature,” the cable read.
In January 2006, former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed – part of the ‘New Maldives’ group of young ministers associated with Gayoom’s reform package – told the US Embassy political officer that the raid on the Minivan office was “utterly shameful.”
“Shaheed expressed concern that the raid undermined the ‘New Maldives’ agenda he and several other reform-minded ministers are promoting. Describing the police chief as ‘someone we are at war with,’ Shaheed added that he had encouraged the president to shift Zahir from his current position,” reads the cable.
In 2006, reformist magazine Adduvas exposed a number of MPs and regime officials who had taken soft loans from former President Gayoom, including Zahir, who had obtained loans totalling MVR8.7 million (US$677,000).
In August 2009, Zahir was summoned to the presidential commission set up by former President Nasheed to investigate allegations of corruption and misappropriation of state funds under the former regime.
At a ceremony on March 29 this year to commemorate the 80th anniversary of police, Zahir was awarded a special plaque by President Dr Mohamed Waheed “in remembrance of his dedicated and invaluable services rendered to MPS.”