PPM MP sentenced to four years in exile for embezzlement

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ibrahim Ameen has been sentenced to four years and six months in exile for embezzlement.

The Criminal Court found the MP for Ungoofaaru constituency guilty of embezzling MVR36, 818 (US$2,388) from the Ungoofaru Island Council Office.

Ameen had been responsible for all incoming cash at the office from May 2004 – April 2006, but failed to explain how MVR36,818 went missing from cash handed over to the office by the island’s power house.

The embezzlement was discovered by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), but Ameen told the Criminal Court the commission’s audit was flawed. He had, however, confessed to receiving the amount.

The Criminal Court sentenced Ameen to internal exile under the Penal Code Article 131(a) and ordered him to pay the money back to the Island Office within a month.

Article 131(a) of the code states that any persons found guilty of embezzlement should be sentenced to six month or one year banishment if it was the first time the person was found guilty of such crime, and  Article 132 states that if the amount of money obtained through embezzlement was more than MVR10,000 (US$649) the person should be banished to an extra  month for each additional MVR1000 (US$69).

Ameen’s brother Abdul Nasir was also handed an eleven year sentence on 17 April 2014 for embezzling MVR114,325 (US$7,414) from the council. Nasir was also found guilty of embezzling fees paid to the council by the power house.

Nasir had confessed to using the funds for personal use, the Criminal Court said.

Ameen won a by-election after his brother MP Dr Afrasheem Ali’s brutal murder left the seat vacant. The PPM issued Ameen the ticket without a primary as he is the brother of the late MP.

Ameen did not contest for the 18th People’s Majlis.

He told local media that he had no interest in politics and that he had competed in the by-election in 2012 to complete his brother’s term.

“My brother’s family asked me if I will stand for the seat. Senior party members and friends also want me to stand for the seat. But I have no interest,” he said at the time.

The current Majlis is in recess ahead of the end of its term on May 28.

Article 73 of the constitution states that a person shall be disqualified from election as a member of the People’s Majlis – or a member of the People’s Majlis immediately becomes disqualified – if he has been convicted of a criminal offence and is serving a sentence of more than twelve months.

Additionally, the same article states that if a person has been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a term more than 12 months he will not be able to stand for parliament,  unless a period of three years has elapsed since his release or he has been pardoned for the offense.

In August 2011, Kaashidhoo MP Ismail Abdul Hameed was sentenced to 18 months in exile for corruption. He subsequently lost his seat.

However, Hameed served ten months of his term under house arrest due to the state’s failure to decide on an island for his exile. He was released in August 2012 under parole.