Immigration Offices raided by ACC; investigators allege intimidation

The offices of the Department of Immigration and Emigration were raided by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials with assistance from police after the granting of a court order.

The seeking of a court order followed thwarted efforts by the ACC earlier in the day to gain access to the immigration department’s offices across the greater Male’ area.

The ACC confiscated around 75 laptops, reports Haveeru, which had allegedly been given to staff as part of a Rf500 million (US$32 million) deal with the Malaysian company Nexbis to develop a new border control system in the Maldives.

According to Sun Online, the ACC has this morning filed a case against the Immigration Department alleging that its staff were intimidated whilst attempting to conduct their investigations.

ACC Vice President Muavviz Rasheed stated that investigators were locked in the building and that the lights and the air conditioning were turned off.

“It is a crime to obstruct ACC in its efforts to carry out its responsibilities. There are punishments for this. So we will take action according to the law. We will not be silent when people attempt to dishonour our authority in this manner,” ACC Vice President Muavviz Rasheed told Sun.

Assistant Controller of the Immigration Department Ibrahim Ashraf told Minivan News today that this intimidation did not happen, rather that the incident alluded to by Muavviz occurred when ACC investigators attempted to remain in the building past the office’s working hours.

“They wanted to stay in the building past the end of working hours – we have been instructed not to do any overtime because of financial constraints. This resulted in havoc,” said Ashraf.

Ashraf said that he had spoken to the person responsible for locking the building at the end of each day and had been assured that the doors had not been locked with ACC employees inside.

Ashraf stated that the ACC had attempted to search the offices without first obtaining a court order and without informing immigration staff. In addition he said that the ACC wished to search employees’ personal lockers.

He said that the ACC had eventually been granted a the court order at midnight, after which its investigators returned to the Velanaage headquarters.

It was at this point that the ACC confiscated the majority of the laptops which Ahsraf stated were part of the Nexbis project. He added, however, that the new Nexbis software was not yet installed on the confiscated computers.

Ashraf also stated that the ACC visited the residence of a senior department figure at around 5:00am to confiscate a laptop after the court order had expired.

The ACC began to investigate the bidding process by which the deal had been awarded soon after it was announce that Nexbis had won the tender in November 2010.

In late 2011, the commission forwarded cases against the Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim and Director General of the Finance Ministry Saamee Ageel, to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG), alleging that the pair had abused their authority for undue financial gain in granting the contract to Nexbis.

After the ACC ordered work on the project halted, the Civil Court ruled that the commission did not have the authority to make such an order. The ACC subsequently challenged this ruling in the High Court.

The ACC President Hassan Luthfee told Minivan News last week that a decision was anticipated by the end of May. He hoped the High Court would “delineate” the role of the ACC.

Both the President and Vice President of the ACC were unavailable for comment at the time of press.

Clarification on the powers of the ACC would alleviate confusion which has also arisen in the Thilafushi-Heavy Load reclamation project.

Heavy Load, a company run by the family of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Interim Chairman Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik, came under the ACC’s radar after similar complaints regarding this project’s tender process.

Moosa claimed at the time that the ACC was not politically impartial. At a press conference today, MDP Deputy Chairperson Mohamed ‘Inthi’ Imthiyaz was asked about yesterday’s raid, responding: “A series of mini-coups follow coup d’etat. I believe this is one of those mini-coups”.

Last week, details emerged that the first phase of the Nexbis project had been completed even as legal issues remained unresolved.

This first phase had reportedly involved a significant financial outlay by the company, which has previously threatened legal action should it incur losses as a result of delays to the project.

In the preceding week, the High Court had ordered an injunction halting any further work on the project pending the outcome of the ACC’s appeal on the Civil Court ruling.

Assistant Controller Ashraf expressed his concern that hindrances to the new border control system will have ramifications that go far beyond political turf-wars.

“Whoever is doing this to jeopardise the image of the Immigration Department needs to understand that the consequences may be disastrous. I don’t want the Maldives to become another Bali or Mumbai,” he said.

“They can take action against corruption and let the border control project continue. We are becoming a weak spot in the region. I have serious concerns.”

“We have a population of 300,000 which includes 100,000 foreigners. We have to be sure that they do not have criminal records, that they are not fugitives hiding in paradise,” added Ashraf.


7 thoughts on “Immigration Offices raided by ACC; investigators allege intimidation”

  1. "We are becoming a weak spot in the region."

    No, you ARE the weak spot in the region. A billion dollar immigration system isn't going to reduce the number of foreigners or stop deviants coming in.

    It's solely to do with the people who are employed to do their job as well as their management. It also has a lot to do with enforcement agencies, legal bodies such as the Courts.

    The control and entry point of the country is only a small part of the entire immigration picture. What you're trying to do is the equivalent of putting on very expensive designer sun glasses on a very ugly face! Doesn't change anything!

  2. I resecpt mr ashrafs vision and wisdom since I've dealt with him a couple of times . He could forese immigration from others experience. Apart from nexbiz project 'm I take his concerns seriously on these security issues.

  3. Dear Ahmed bin Abbu suadeeb

    The gate way to a country is every thing , the evil the bad the ugly and the bold and beautiful all pass thought that so called gate way. Why do you suffer at immigration queues for resent less hours, spend weeks months begging embassies for a visa. Imagine the dividends you spend to visit Colombo stay at a hotel applying for visa. What happens if you fail your interview , don't be that narrow mided just like you guys had attempted to sell that piece of land and declare indepence just like the Tamils tried in srilanka . That's the answer to this project , Chicao my friend

  4. ILYAS former dictators brother in law , looted mifco
    ILYAS. brother in law. baa ghee waheed looted immigration
    ILYAS, the sheikh from seven skies, brain washed innocent maldivians,coup leader

  5. What a waste, that's the first impression every one gets when you read articles from papers about this project. I have a couple of questions here? 1. It's almost two years since acc pet project Border control project was signed. Acc said " project leads to corruption " " corruption ah magu fahi vaagotha" enough time has passed to clarify the meaning of leads to corruption, . So I suggest let the corrupt be proven guilty and charge them. What's all this lap top , lanova fetching , it' was portaid as if it's a Colombian drug bust . Let's deal with the real issue here.
    2 . Question . From where does this 500 million comes from I've read and tried but this figure seems to fluctuate like the stock exchange be seen 600 million , a 200 million a 2 million and many more . Can some serious journalist look in to this matter .
    WhY is it targeted to immgration . I believe such projects are being evaluated by tender board or finance ministry and not immigration. Pls stp innocent immigration officers live a dignified life.

  6. I'm an accused Immigration Senior Officer. ACC staff abused us in many ways. At first they put us in a locked waiting room for hours with a very low temperature set Aircon.left alone without any one to talk and with out drinking water. Our moble phones were collected. Simply they accused us Nexbis offered laptops for bribery even though they could see the Nexbis asset id marked with a sticker on each laptop. Reality is those laptops were part of the MIBCS project. All of the equipments for the project were on Nexbis Limited name. Laptops were to be installed the software for training purpose. Training start date was planed on 14th May 2012. We were allowed the laptops even to carry home. All the laptops were handed over by the Procurement Unit of Immigration. No laptops were given to anyone after 10th May 2012 which was the date of Court order to halt the Project temporarily. ACC leaders and the staff have their hostility towards Immigration due to the failure of winning the case over the Immigration. Most of all the new "Passport Regulation" which was gazetted on 1st April 2012 did not allow the Deputy Commissioner or Mr.Muavviz of ACC to hold Diplomatic Passport any longer. The whole thing shows that the ACC is no longer doing its responsibilities properly with Justice. Its a shame such bodies treat other so ill like they are intimidating Immigration Officers.

  7. @beyfulha: Was Ilyas or his Brother the head of STO, which was the Brother who wanted to be the President and ran to Singapore with loot? Yes, it was Ilyas, Abbas is the older one, it all comes back to me now.

    Anyway, when some form of an audit was ordered against STO, someone whom I know and love had to burn the papers which gave evidence of corruption, not really understanding what they were doing, but just obeying out of fear.

    I wish I could be less vague I really do, but, I can't be, or else innocent people will be hurt unjustly. This is a very sad reality.

    Anyway, my point is, a few high officials such as SAEED above will be prosecuted to give an impression that the corrupt are against corruption, but no real ring leaders in this scheme will ever be hurt.

    There is an Islamic Hadith which states that society crumbles as a whole and destruction is near when the rich are above the law and the poor are punished for crimes the rich commit ten times worse.

    There will come a time Justice will be seen.


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