The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has alleged that a decision by police to reveal the corruption probe of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Waheed was an attempt to politically intimidate the parliamentarian.
Last month, the Maldives Police Service claimed that it was probing into a corruption case involving Ali Waheed – who is also the deputy parliamentary group leader of MDP – in collaboration with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
In a press conference held on Sunday, President of the ACC Hassan Luthfee stated that the commission sought assistance from police in gathering forensic evidences while investigating several cases, but raised questions as to why the police had found the interest to speak about the case involving Ali Waheed in the media.
Luthfee added that the commission intends to look into the matter claiming that it had sought police assistance, but not specifically for Waheed’s case.
The president of ACC said that he believed that revealing of details of the case by police now posed difficulties for the investigation process.
Speaking to Minivan News, Luthfee said that a lot of people believed that the case had a political motive, and to prevent loss of public confidence in its investigation the ACC had agreed that neither police nor themselves would reveal details to media unless through a joint statement.
“Perhaps revealing the details to media could be a way [police] carries out certain investigations. Maybe that is an investigation technique, but if it is carried out with such a [political] motive, then it is very concerning,” he said.
Luthfee added that he was “shocked” to see police revealing the details in the media when the commission had only requested technical assistance from the police.
“The commission do not have the resources needed to carry out certain types of corruption investigations, including cases involving bribery. That is why we had requested assistance from the police. But before providing any assistance, they revealed it to the media. I was shocked to hear about it from the media the next morning,” he said.
Police Media Official Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at time of press.
Luthfee earlier confirmed that the commission sought technical assistance from police in investigating the case concerning the Thoddoo MP.
“We have earlier received complaints regarding the MP taking bribes following his defection from Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the MDP. There were also claims that he had utilised the money he received as bribes to buy a house. We are investigating the matter,” Luthfee said at the time.
He added that the ACC had occasionally requested technical assistance from police in investigating corruption cases and that this case was no different.
Meanwhile, Ali Waheed in a press statement released earlier alleged that the case was a politically motivated attempt to intimidate him after Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) – on which Waheed sits as the chair – alleged flaws in the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) concerning the February 2012 transfer of power.
“I have been receiving threats from the government who have said that I and my family will be arrested if I do not resign from the MDP and as the chairman of the EOC. The threats were repeated after parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s brother was arrested,” he alleged at the time.
Waheed further claimed that he had nothing to hide from the authorities and added that neither the ACC nor the police had asked him to come in for questioning, which he claimed “proved that there were no discrepancies”.
However, ACC President Luthfee responded to Waheed’s claim that he would be called in for questioning when “the time comes”.
“The government cannot manipulate me. I have the remote that controls me, not them,” said Waheed, concluding his statement.
Following Waheed’s high profile defection from then opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to then ruling MDP in May 2011, several opposition MPs alleged that Waheed had sold himself to the then ruling MDP and former President Nasheed, a claim dismissed by Waheed.
Following the coverage, Waheed alleged that local journalists had politicised a private real estate dealing, in which he had won a fair bid for a beach house in Hulhumale’ and paid an upfront sum of MVR 1 million.
Waheed won the beachfront house for Rf4.6 million (US$300,000), bidding MVR 3020 (US$195) per square foot. His wife also reportedly won a house.
“The house will become my property only after I finish the rest of the payment within five years,” Waheed said in a press statement released at the time. “However, the story of this business transaction was spun in the media, with [outlets] writing ‘Ali Waheed and his wife have bought two houses in Hulhumale’ for Rf 9.4 million’ (US$600,000)’ in their headlines.’’
Local newspaper Haveeru claimed that the case involved Ali Waheed’s mother purchasing land in Male’ during October 2011. Haveeru alleged the net total of the sale stood at MVR 7.938 million (US$514,000), and suggested Waheed’s involvement in the transaction. However, it reported that the extent of Waheed’s involvement remained “unclear”.
Ali Waheed’s mother Zuhuraa had at the time claimed the money for the sale came from her husband’s savings, but some local media outlets have reported that the sale was funded by the construction giant TEP Construction Private limited.