An ongoing legal dispute between the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Malaysian mobile security solutions provider Nexbis escalated this week, after the High Court ordered police to investigate claims made to the ACC that Chief Judge of the High Court Ahmed Shareef met officials from the company in Bangkok.
The dispute concerns the deployment of a border control system, specifically the installation of an electronic border gate system in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), bringing technological upgrades such as facial recognition, fingerprint identification and e-gates to the Maldives.
The project stalled after the ACC alleged corruption in the bidding process, leading to a ongoing series of high-profile court battles.
In May 2012 the project was brought to a standstill by a High Court injunction and a raid on immigration offices by ACC staff. At the time the Rf 10 million (US$650,000) first phase of the border control project had been completed, according to local media reports.
Nexbis has threatened legal action against the Maldivian government should it incur losses for the work already done on the project, and earlier this month filed a case with against the ACC accusing it of breaching article 141 of the constitution, stipulating non-interference in judicial matters by public officials, and article 42, entitling the company to a fair trial.
The Supreme Court in late June meanwhile dismissed the High Court’s injunction against the continuation of the project, on the basis that the bench overseeing the case had been unlawfully reconstituted. Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali told local media at the time that the department was trying to interpret the order, which he contended “doesn’t make sense”,
In the most recent development Nexbis denied allegations – submitted to the ACC and published in Haveeru – that Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef had returned home from a conference in Singapore after spending a week in Bangkok, where he was alleged to have met Nexbis representatives.
Nexbis denied that any such meeting took place, and this week filed a case in a bid to stop the ACC from publicly sharing information on the investigation while the matter was in court, and seeking an apology for the damage to its reputation.
Asking police to investigate the allegations made to the ACC, the High Court meanwhile stressed in a statement this week that “no individual Judge can simply influence a decision of the Court, as all cases at the High Court are presided by a minimum three Judges bench and a ruling is only made by the majority of a particular bench.”
The accusations sent to the ACC were an “extremely irresponsible act with intentions to deceive and manipulate the truth,” the Court’s statement read.
The Court contended that the ACC’s investigation of the judge would amount to a conflict of interest, as the ACC was investigating a case it had itself filed in court.