The Supreme Court has ruled that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) did not have the legal authority to order the Department of Immigration and Emigration not to sign a contract with Malaysian mobile security firm Nexbis in 2010, to establish a border control system (BCS).
The apex court today overturned a previous High Court judgment, which itself overturned a Civil Court ruling last year declaring that the ACC did not have legal authority to terminate the contract signed with Nexbis in November 2010.
However, the High Court judgment was appealed by Nexbis at the Supreme Court, which today ruled in favour of the Malaysian company.
The controversial BCS project was terminated by the government in August this year and replaced by the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) provided by the US government on August 20.
According to local media reports, today’s Supreme Court judgment was delivered with the unanimous consent of all seven Justices on the court bench. However, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain and Justice Muthasim Adnan noted different points to the other five.
Delivering the majority decision at today’s hearing, Justice Abdulla Saeed reportedly said that the High Court violated judicial and legal principles in overturning the lower court verdict, noting that the ACC’s order was made after the agreement was signed.
Referring to domestic contract laws and the ACC Act, the Supreme Court upheld the Civil Court ruling, which had determined that the ACC did not have the legal authority to order the Immigration Department to terminate the BCS project based on alleged corrupt dealings.
The Supreme Court had also previously overturned a High Court injunction blocking the implementation of the BCS project, prompting ACC Chair Hassan Luthfy to claim that the independent body had been rendered powerless.
“If this institution is simply an investigative body, then there is no purpose for our presence,” Luthfy said in September last year. “Even the police investigate cases, don’t they? So it is more cost effective for this state to have only the police to investigate cases instead of the ACC.”
Luthfy contended that the ruling had rendered the ACC powerless to prevent corruption, even if it was carried out on a large scale.
“In other countries, Anti Corruption Commissions have the powers of investigation, prevention and creating awareness. If an institution responsible for fighting corruption does not have these powers then it is useless,” he argued.
In December 2011, the ACC submitted corruption cases to the Prosecutor General’s Office (AGO) against former Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim and Director General of the Finance Ministry, Saamee Ageel, claiming the pair abused their authority for undue financial gain in awarding Nexbis the MVR 500 million (US$39 million) BSC project.
Ex-controller Ilyas – brother-in-law of President Dr Mohamed Waheed and current state minister of defence and national security – pleaded not guilty to the charges at the first hearing of the trial on April 10 this year.
Meanwhile, on December 25, 2012, parliament voted unanimously to instruct the government to terminate the BSC agreement with Nexbis.
All 74 MPs in attendance voted in favour of a Finance Committee recommendation following a probe into the potential financial burden on the state as a result of the deal.
In September 2012, the ACC informed the committee that the deal would cost the Maldives MVR 2.5 billion (US$162 million) in potential lost revenue over the lifetime of the contract.
The Finance Committee meanwhile found that the government had agreed to waive taxes for Nexbis despite the executive lacking legal authority for tax exemption.
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US government in March this year to provide a border control system to the Maldives, representatives from Nexbis told Minivan News that the company was uncertain what the MOU would mean for the group’s own border control technology. The technology has been in use at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) since September 2012.
“We do remain confident that the Maldivian government will honour its obligations under the 2010 concession agreement,” read a statement from lawyers representing the company.
“We are confident also of the support we have received by the Immigration Department in implementing and fully operating the system, but remain cautious of individuals that continue to pose obstacles to prevent the success of this project is stemming the national security issues faced by the Maldives today.”
Under the concession agreement signed with the Maldives government, Nexbis levied a fee of US$2 from passengers in exchange for installing, maintaining and upgrading the country’s immigration system. The company also agreed a fee of US$15 for every work permit card issued under the system.
Nexbis in July 2013 invoiced the Department of Immigration and Emigration for US$2.8 million (MVR 43 million) for the installation and operation of its border control technology in line with the concession agreement – requesting payment be settled within 30 days.
Nexbis’ lawyers argued that the company had expected the fee to be included in the taxes and surcharges applied to airline tickets in and out of the country, according to local media. However, lawyers argued these payments had not been made due to the government’s “neglect” in notifying the relevant international authorities.
12 thoughts on “No legal authority for ACC to prevent signing of Nexbis contract, Supreme Court rules”
Congratulation Nexbis against ACC.
We heard Jangiyaa Nazim and Azima and ACC president Lutfy played huge political dirty game in Independent Commission. Since Jangiyaa Nazim played the role from Majlis and never invited immigration technical team to answer about project, it was played in Majlis due to ACC knew they will loose the case in court and they went plan B.
AZIMA played huge dirty game in ACC and spoil Immigration reputation and name and even International company reputation...
PISCES is missing a number of important modules that immigration have stated as NECESSARY in their needs requirement. they say only 4 out of some 12 necessary modules are present in this PISCES, as opposed to NEXBIZ system.
basically, coup government is risking national security by refusing the needs requirements of immigration for the border control system. allowing all sorts of criminals, traffickers, smugglers to enter and leave maldives freely as they do now. well, those uncle sam approves ofcourse. ive a feeling maldives will be off US human trafficking watch list even with all this. big brother is happy with the coup government after all.
yeah india and US are offering border control systems that are not as expensive as nexbiz. thatz what ACC keep saying. but no one is asking about what we NEED in maldives right now. where the frack is that majlis committee on national security?!
Do anybody can answer do you think a agreement can cancel when Azima wants?
Do you know why ACC running behind this project and why IMMIGRATION was not present in parliament committee?
Why last mint again ACC send a letter not pay the payment of Nexbis what was the deal between Azima and ACC?
Why ACC wants to hold Nexbis equipments and Laptops?
Why ACC and JAMEEL and Azima change sh ilyas! What was the thread for ACC?
We have evidence ACC is corrupt.
Another day in paradise; another investor gets the boot. Investor return home to lick their wounds.
To be perfectly honest, this was a doomed project right from the start. If people think the GMR deal was dubious, the Nexbis one was a lot worse. Fingers were pointed at the former Immigration Controller.
I think it’s high time, the country had its first ever Public Inquiry into these two major events, i.e. GMR and Nexbis. Otherwise, no lessons would be learned and history will repeat itself.
Another contract illegally terminated by the bankrupt government of Maldives.
Is this part of the ongoing mess your immigration system is in?
As I said before the short, fat and dim people of Maldives seem incapable of operating a computerised system with an input keyboard.
You guys need to import a few dhows from the arabs and get back to things you can handle…..like tuna fishing…..you don’t need a lot of brains for that…..you seem really good at making beds, cleaning out the toilets and serving food and vino on your resorts.
Leave the clever and difficult stuff for the Indians ( I am falling about laughing now).
No comments in poor Maldivian English…..please.
The truth is this project most clean project ever seen in Tender Board.
But Because of Immigration internal problem, and Adam Naseer and playboy Cyrix ibrahim Waheed just want to spoil sh ilyas and his team they went ACC and complain the project and went Media and written articles for one week to pressure sh ilyas and ACC.
ACC is almost corrupt commission and Jangiyaa Nazim warn sh ilyas that these Immigration complain about project and media is clever write about articles and request for money, sh ilyas said he is not corrupt man and even Luthfee and Hilmy was asking money from this project like GMR,.
There is 100 percent proof that Nazim had meet sh ilyas in Nazim house and request what he wants other wise will spoil all immigration and project with ACC.
Jangiyaa Nazim was Tasty of Money he travel to Malaysia and asked to arrange meeting to Dato Zaki , but Dato zaki also told he is not corrupt person like Jangiyaa Nazim what ever ACC can do, do it ALLAH will know truth.
after sh ilyas change Baaqee shahid help ACC to do fake documents and lot of fake things for ACC to use in media and Azima was behind ACC to organize all fake documents to submit to courts.
AFter again sh ilyas change to Immigration Azima and Jameel and ACC hilmy and luthfee discuss if this project starts they will never get any thing and Jameel arrange how immigration name will be spoil with AG Azima and ACC these two tugs .
Dhitv is Azima media propaganda with Jameel and these people is crazy with runnung behind this project because they have own interest..
Did ever seen ACC with another project like Thilafushi ? This project ACC stops even Payments..
Nexbis or Immigration Project was a great Project and even any party wins but Politicians and ACC 24hrs day and night without sleep and even like Attack force so many operation they stop the project because of political influence from Anti Corruption Commission and even Deputy Speaker Parliament called former controller and told about ACC was under his control and even to give bribe other wise it will stop from Majlis and from ACC and even he invite former controller visit to his home with ACC President and Hilmy and tried to convince how much they need to have close relation with Nexbis company.
ACC Hilmy met Immigration techinical team but Hilmy could not talk what he wants since Techinical Team explain about the political stop and how the project was….
It was great Project from Immigration and even ACC used media and AG Azima use Defense Minister Nazim Home MInister Jameel and even ACC Control person Majlis speaker Nazim to stop and they use NCIT to tell fake stories and even NCIT on line system now already failed and even so many Maldivian companies bankrupt because of construction agreement they cannot bring labour… Immigration is almost fail and thanks to ACC and Politicians who fail immigration Bravo….
“The ACC in the previous Supreme Court hearing submitted that there was no implication on Nexbis or any corruption whatsoever in the contracting state of the Border Control System project,” he said. “The Border Control System is fully implemented and is operational in Male’ International Airport.
what this means by ACC..? that means hilmy and ACC Raees have some issues with Nxbis company Jealousy so much damage given to Media by ACC
Nexbis is just trying to save its corrupt deal here. The human trafficking problem we have is the easiest thing to solve. You don’t need complicated machinery to findout these illegals and their operators. If thhere was the will this ppl smuggling bussiness can be shutdown in a few hours in Male. The agencies who profit from this smuggling are known. And these illegals are simple poor workers 99% of them do not have proper work permits. TheY are not using any cleverness to get themselves in to this country. Just the knowledge that we will do nothing even if caught emboldens them. Its very very simple to solve this. But the problem is everybody making reports and nobody takes action. Every other day one politician or another will say we have this many of illegals and this is a big problem. We all know of this problem and we just want somebody to do something.
The biggest threat to national security is from human trafficking. Stop the flow of thousands upon thousands of labourers from Indian and Bangladesh.
We don't care whether its Pisces, Pistachios or even Faeces! Just stop the flood gate at the god damned border, will you?
Nexbis is given much of a leech on the very important industry which is already being leeched to the max. Clean or not its one of the worst contractual terms seen.
It is also important to see of these missing modules from the free version of phiatachio system can be purchased possibly at a lower financial burden to the state.
@human being: if it was so easy, why didnt Maumoon stop it? He had more than 10 years to do so.
I'll tell you why he didn't stop it.
Because his criminal empire profits from cheap illegal labor.
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