The High Court has concluded hearings into a case in which Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim stands accused of defrauding the now defunct Atolls Ministry, a scam worth US$260,000 (MVR 3,446,950).
The case was first filed at the Criminal Court which ruled that Nazim’s actions were not sufficient to criminalise him. The case was appealed in the High Court by the Prosecutor General.
The Prosecutor General’s lawyers today told the High Court that Nazim used the staff of his Namira firm as tools in the scam, after the staff told the investigation that they did not know of the existence of the unregistered companies used by Nazim.
According to media outlets present at the hearing the PG’s lawyers requested the High Court order the Criminal Court to cancel the previous verdict and conduct a retrial.
Nazim’s lawyers meanwhile said it was unfair that the state was charging only Nazim in the case, despite the allegations that the staff had acted as accomplices. Nazim’s lawyers also accused the state of trying to defame Nazim.
The judges presiding over the case concluded the hearing announcing that this would be the last hearing unless the court needed any clarification.
At a press conference in August 2009, Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef said police had uncovered evidence that implicated Nazim in fraudulent transactions worth over US$260,000 (MVR 3,446,950).
Police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques they stated proved that Nazim had received over US$400,000 in the case.
A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May the same year allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letterheads.
Fraud charges were also filed against Atolls Minister Abdullah Hameed (half brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom) and Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem, former director of finance at the ministry who were implicated in the same case.
Police further alleged that MP Saleem actively assisted from the atoll ministry while Nazim’s wife Zeenath Abdullah had abused her position as a manager of the Bank of Maldives’ Villingili branch to deposit proceeds of the fraudulent conspiracy.
Police said Hameed played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, approving bid documents for unregistered companies and discriminatory treatment of bid applicants.
During the original trial held at the Criminal Court the then-employees of Namira testified under oath that they were instructed by Nazim to bid for the projects – however, the presiding judge concluded from their testimonies that they were responsible for the procurement fraud and therefore dismissed the testimonies against Nazim on all counts.