The Prosecutor General’s Office has reportedly summoned MPs involved in bribery allegations concerning Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim to present for questioning.
Police detained Gasim and People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdulla Yameen in early July 2010 on accusations of bribery and, according to the police charge sheet, “attempting to topple the government illegally.”
President Nasheed’s cabinet had resigned en masse the week prior, in protest against what they claimed were the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-majority parliament, leaving only President Mohamed Nasheed and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan in charge of the country. The move circumvented regulations blocking the arrest of MPs while no-confidence motions were pending against sitting ministers.
Several days later, audio recordings of conversations between several MPs, including Yameen and Gasim, were leaked to the media. The recordings carried implications of vote-buying within parliament, suggestions of collaboration with the officials in the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and details of a plan to derail the progress of a taxation bill.
Later in July 2010, the President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News that the government had felt obliged to take action after six MDP MPs came forward with statements alleging Yameen and Gasim had attempted to bribe them to vote against the government.
At the time the opposition PA-DRP coalition had a small voting majority, with the addition of supportive independent MPs. However, certain votes require a two-thirds majority of the 77 member chamber – such as a no-confidence motion to impeach the president.
“These MPs are two individuals of high net worth – tycoons with vested interests,” Zuhair said at the time. “In pursuing their business interests they became enormously rich during the previous regime, and now they are trying to use their ill-gotten gains to bribe members in the Majlis [parliament] and judiciary to keep themselves in power and above the fray. They were up to all sorts of dark and evil schemes. There were plans afoot to topple the government illegally before the interim period was over.”
Local media reported this week that police had reopened the case against Yameen and Gasim, following a response by Police Inspector Mohamed Riyaz to a question from parliament’s Privileges Committee on the status of the investigation.
Riyaz clarified that while both MPs had been arrested over the matter, “we could find no evidence against Yameen. The bribery case only concerns Gasim.”
While bribery was the stipulated offence Riyaz observed that this was “not necessarily only money.”
Police sent the case to the Prosecutor General’s Office on August 2 last year.
Inspector Riyaz told Minivan News that the Prosecutor General had tried to summon the MPs who gave evidence in the case for questioning over the matter.
While it was “not common for witnesses to be taken to the PG’s office”, Riyaz said he hoped the MPs would cooperate with the PG’s office and clarify their statements. In the statements taken by police, the MPs were “quite clear” about what they had been offered, he added.
Zuhair today said that police had submitted “irrefutable evidence” that six members of parliament had been offered bribes, and that the Prosecutor General “should take the matter forward.”
“This is a very serious issue that last year led to the abrupt resignation of cabinet, and transpired to nearly stop the functioning of government,” Zuhair said.
The Prosecutor General was not responding to Minivan News at time of press.