The Criminal Court has asked police to summon former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed to the Maldives under police custody to face corruption charges.
A court order issued last night requested police to summon 19 defendants whose cases have been stalled because they were out of the country.
Abdulla Hameed, brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and long-serving Speaker of Parliament, reportedly resides in Sri Lanka. In 2009, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) pressed charges against Hameed for abuse of authority for financial gain to a third party.
A press statement by the Criminal Court noted that the order was made for the second time while a meeting was held with police on June 1, 2011 to discuss defendants at large.
The Criminal Court asked police to find Hameed in April 2011 and present him before the court after several hearings of the corruption case had to be cancelled.
Police said at the time that the Immigration Department had been instructed to hold Hameed’s passport should he ever return to the Maldives.
Police spokesperson Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam explained that when the court first requested police to summon Hameed in late 2009 he was not in the Maldives.
“But the court have not yet issued an arrest warrant or requested his arrest via Interpol,” Shiyam said in April. “His whereabouts remain unknown.”
In August 2009, police concluded an investigation into alleged corruption at the Atolls Ministry flagged in an audit report released earlier that year.
At a press conference on August 8, 2009, Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, forged bank statements and cheques implicating Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem and Hameed in a scam to defraud the ministry through fraudulent transactions.
Police investigations focused on three main points in the ministry’s audit report for 2007 and 2008: the purchase of mosque sound systems for over US$138,000; the purchase of 15,000 national flags for over US$110,000; and the purchase of 220 harbour lights at a cost of over US$151,000 from businesses with close ties to Nazim.
According to Atheef, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem, who was director of finance at the ministry, actively assisted the scam.
Atheef added that Mohamed Ali, an employee of Namira Engineering, and Abdulla Nashid, Nazim’s brother, further produced and signed bid documents.
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.
“In these cases, money laundering was involved,” Atheef said at the time. “I wouldn’t say money from these transactions was directly deposited to the accounts of Abdulla Hameed or Ahmed Saleem.
“Transactions take a long period. For example, I deposited five rufiyaa to an account, and from that account withdrew four rufiyaa as cash. Then deposit four rufiyaa to another account, by single denominations. A person who is looking at it from a distance would find it hard to trace.”
Conspiracy to defraud
Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim appeared in court last month to answer multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the former Atolls Ministry. However the Criminal Court barred journalists from observing the trial.
Local daily Haveeru reported today that summons to the next trial date on September 29 was delivered to Nazim last night. The court had reportedly failed to hand over the chit to the People’s Alliance (PA) MP on eight occasions.
In November 2010, following the PGO’s decision to press charges, Hameed’s son and lawyer, Shaheen Hameed, issued a press statement arguing that the case was “politically motivated”.
Shaheen accused the PGO of double standards claiming that “people who confessed to the crime and gave statements to police regarding this case have not been prosecuted to date.”
In an earlier statement put out in October, Shaheen Hameed said his father was “ready to fully answer the charges made against him at trial.”
The prominent lawyer argued in the statement that there was no impediment from carrying out the trial in Hameed’s absence as his legal team was “ready to defend him.”
He added that both the police and PGO denied “repeated requests” for government documents related to the case, which were needed to prepare a defence.