Government proceeds with Nexbis signing despite ACC complaint

The Maldives has signed an agreement with Malaysian-based mobile security solutions vendor Nexbis to supply an advanced border control system for the immigration department.

The Maldives was this year placed on the US State Department watch list for human trafficking, which may narrowly eclipse the fishing industry as the second-largest contributor to the Maldivian economy after tourism.

The new system will allow the immigration department to store and retrieve the biometric data of expatriates working in the country, using fingerprint and facial recognition technology, effectively circumventing the abuse of paper documentation.

“We currently have a large number of illegal expatriates running around the country,” a source at the immigration department told Minivan News. “Right now estimate that there are 100,000 foreign workers in the country, but there are no official figures on how many may be illegal.”

Workers were arriving in the country legally “but once in the country they discard the documents and flee to islands, and seek better payment.”

Many companies in the Maldives were benefiting “and facilitating” the problem, the source said, which was impacting those companies “who do operate legally and pay visa fees to the government.”

Ensuring that workers could be accurately identified, even without documentation, is a key benefit of the new system, the source explained.

“Since people discard documents and flee when police get hold of them, it can be hard to identity who someone is unless he says so himself. Likewise we deport a lot of people, sometimes for serious crimes, who come back in the next day on a new passport. It’s a loophole.”

“Right now were are also seeing a lot of underage domestic workers coming from countries like Nepal, who have passports definitely stating they are over 18. Under 18s are considered minors and can’t work under Maldivian law, but still the trend continues. In many cases these workers are abducted and trafficked, and this new system will help us address that. We’re also trying to get a visa officer stationed in Bangladesh.”

The new technology will allow police and island officials across the Maldives to determine a worker’s identity and visa status using facial recognition software and an authorised mobile phone connected to an immigration server.

“It does not require special gadgets, and will allow people like the island or atoll councillor to get data on a runaway, and see if their visa has expired or is pending,” the source said.

The 20 year contract with Nexbis will not require upfront investment from the government; instead, Minivan News understands that the government will pay Nexbis a US$15 fee for every work permit issued under the new system.

Nexbis did not disclose terms for national security and confidentiality reasons, however the firm said it expects to begin generating revenue from the project this financial year.

The immigration department will retain full control of the system, with technical assistance provided by Nexbis during the first stages of the project.

ACC criticism

Yesterday’s signing ceremony between Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussein Ibrahim and Nexbis CEO Johan Yong ran into opposition from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which alleged it had received “a serious complaint” regarding “technical details” of the bid.

“We faxed a letter twice and sent another letter to the department at 9.35am after we received a complaint over the bid evaluation process. So we asked to put the signing ceremony on hold as we needed time to investigate the matter,” ACC Deputy Commissioner Muawwiz Rasheed told newspaper Haveeru.

“The law gives us the authority to take actions if our decision is violated. We have to take action if our decision is violated.”

A source within the immigration department confirmed that the ACC had sent a note to the department.

“The bid evaluation went through all the government processes. It was an international bid and included technical and financial evaluations,” the source said. “There were no issues until another independent commission was formed to evaluate some of the bids. This was not done by immigration – all bids were evaluated at the finance ministry by their pool of technical experts.”

The source claimed that there “may have been a few staff within the immigration department who have sent a letter to the ACC using their influence within [the department]. There is some sort of intention to stop the project that could have political motivations behind it.

“When we prosecute court cases and deport people for serious crimes, under the new system they will be unable to return simply by using a new passport. This will benefit police, the ministry of labour, even the tax department. I see the potential for a large improvement.”

Nexbis shares were today trading 1.43 percent higher at $0.071.

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18 thoughts on “Government proceeds with Nexbis signing despite ACC complaint”

  1. Every single effort by the government to improve something is either met by the ACC or by the parliament.

    There are always someone in each organization who would do the necessary leaking and the reporting. These are the contacts/connections kept by the Opposition parties.

    The reason is either some of the Opposition members would get exposed, or their revenue stand to get reduced.

    I do not understand why the ACC has to stop a process. If they find anything wrong they investigate and send it to the Prosecutor General.

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  2. This looks like a media frenzy project. but i wonder when the media says on nexbiz website it does not indicate any thing about border control. ? how much do ??? they know about border control. its the narrow mind set that clouds such important prjects like this, which would benifit this country which has got so many red warning flags ,of terror invitations? try imagining a once balli ? thats a touristisk heaven ? a country which welcomes people with friendliness and papmpering. maldives economy hugely depndeds on its beauty , inviting tourists? these projcets will defeinetley help to trace share and be on the alert for possibilities? who could this IT head be, my sources told me he is just a DRP politically promoted guy during the DRP regime by Kuvaa shafiu. just a boy scout from Malaysia only 7 days old for immigration border control project.

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  3. This acc would be the mastermind of second in command ,rival flighting for the throne with sheikh ilyas and the bald previous Zimaadhaaru, and the guys who knows everything IT head.

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  4. Ministries are not applying the recommended procedures in bidding. I do not know what happened in the case above but I know that the bidding procedures need to be assessed and capacity built in Ministries. Right now you cannot trust the system. Very disappointing.

    Sometimes people are taken for a ride because the Ministries are pretending to do the right thing. Bidders spend precious time working on bids and hoping there is a selection system.

    One such case is recently when the Ministry of Human Resources Youth and Sports gave the Youth Center in Foahmulak without a transparent process.

    If there is a violation, the case must be looked into to uphold the democratic principles.

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  5. Fishy...very fishy.

    15$ well according the the haveeru articale Nexbiz system lack facial recognition and biometric features in them, to think they are charging 15$ per permit as long as the system is in use.

    This needs more clarification this journalistic work lack.

    Sorry JJ but you can do better.

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  6. My 2 cents worth of opinion :

    Nexbis has always been a doubtful company in terms of their capabilities, and financial control. Especially with regards to their responsibilities to shareholders; just google up Nexbis and you'll see a lot of 'interesting' news related to these matters.

    To point out a couple of facts with regards to the haveeru article :
    Nexbis lacks facial recognition and biometric features - this is partially untrue; there is some R&D work going on for this, but it's unclear on their progress on this.

    Nexbis often hides a lot of crucial facts in relation to their nature of business; if you visit their website, you'd notice that they have a lot of solutions per say, but how many are actually up and running live?

    ACC does have its' grounds to question the deal; based on some insider news i've heard, the deal never went through the full protocols required for tenders, and as such, ACC was probably doubtful on this part.

    Sorry to those who's supporting Nexbis, but I vote no confidence in their capabilities and work.

    Hell, even their CFO got into a fight with a taxi driver (again, google it up). I guess that says a lot about a company.

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  7. ACC job is to to find out any coruption going on this deal, so i think we must give them chance, and this problem end really sad way. Need to reconsider before final any of deal in the goverment

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  8. I agree too with MudersWork, the problem is we all say this is Democracy and yet nothing has change. Govt does not care about independant institutes.

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  9. Ok ACC has a mandate to stop corruption.

    But are they ready to compensate for any losses for the two parties in a deal when they order a process to be stalled just because someone reports to them something is fishy.

    Even a court has to have enough evidence to detain a suspect after 48 hours.

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  10. Well, unbelievable. Even our HC friend - who is a Jew by the way, and we wont name him because we know who he is - is posting as doubtfulthinker from australia. I wonder who he has in maldives as an "insider" giving him information. He has been busy trying to destroy this company because he hates muslims - and this company has a muslim board. Dobtfulthinker is now trying to stoke trouble in our muslim country. Can't really see how doubtfulthinker can have a muslim friend since he is anti muslims. He missed the point completely and is writing about the company and has no idea of how a tender is done. He stated that it 'never went through the full protocols of tenders'. Mate, there is no protocols involved in tenders, there is a tender process. Like in all countries, tenders are posted on government websites and the process is fully described.

    The evaluation process cannot be rigged unless you are suggesting that all of us muslims from the Ministry of Finance, Attorney General's Office, Immigration, Parliment, Ministers etc are ALL colluding. Are you saying all of us muslims in Maldives are stupid ? Don't be a keyboard warrior and hide behind HC. If you have facts go to the authorities and stop using your anti-muslim tactics on us maldivians.

    This HC doubtfulthinker Jewish terrorist is always trying to destroy us muslims and are now worried that we muslims can stop him with this new immigration system.

    If you think you cannot be found with masked email addresses, your are very wrong.. We are watching you doubtful thinker..

    I am looking forward to this new immigration system as it will stop this kind of Jewish terrorist from entering our country !

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  11. The mandate of ACC is to validate if any act of corruption is inherent in the bidding process. We should let them to their duty. According to one of my friend in the Immigration, I came to know that the Controller of Immigration is not the right guy to do this job as lacks necessary knowledge and he is not willing to accept any opposing views or criticism to anything he impose. All he does should be right which is quite absurd in this modern era.

    We Maldivians are spending almost MRF half billion to this project and the system should be designed to perfect. I am aware that the main problem with this project is that Ilyas decision in this bidding was not effective from a cost-benefit perspective.

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  12. i agree with andy, the acc should validate if there is any corruption involved in any project. the airport project as well the customs project should be looked at. Those projects are billions of MRF and us maldivians have to pay. at least this one, the immigration is smart and not allow the company to charge us. I think the government is getting smarter after the custom project. the company can invest whatever they want as long as we dont have to pay and the government dont have to pay. my friend in immigration say the immigration people not nice to investors. immigration should know that we are a very small country and we need investors. if they make any project too hard nobody will invest in our country. i for one want to make sure that we have good system in our country as long as there is a fair and proper process.

    we should ask the government to make the new airport contract the same as immigration so that maldivians dont have to pay. foreigners dont mind paying anyway because the one who come here are very rich as they pay thousands of dollars to stay here. when i went to europe last time they charge me US$180 for security fee in my ticket. i think the foreigners can pay more for airport project so that we dont pay.

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  13. do you guys no that Ilyas negotiated with the vedor and agreed by them not to charge even a cent from any Maldivian who holds a Maldivian Passport?
    I dont understand how the government is paying a cent on this project. The full investment is from Nexbis and presently the visa card is charge usd.28 and also for visa stickers charged. with this agreement visa card is charged usd.15 and stickers are FREE. we dont care if the vendor is allowed to charged usd.2/- from the foreign arrival and depart from the country which is a very small acount compare to other country pay as security fees. Come on! for you guys this government can do no good. Fingure with every move and the people only suffer. It will be good the investors in to Maldives are not been disturbed due to political fighting of the ruling and oppositions. Once foreign investor runaway then its not the govenrment which will fail. Its the poeple who have to pay the cost. whole world is begging for solid investments to their country and here we Maldives is freightening the investors.

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  14. good one the immigration ! i dont know the details before, but if we dont pay work permit that is good and discount on visa card even better. the charges for airportsecurity fee in world is very high cambodia USD50, Indonesia $40 and so on. I tink the maldives should charge more than $2, foreigners will laugh at us fo cheap. maybe they charge more we can get more service from company. i agree taht we shold not let our politics distrub investors or we wont get anybody come in. next time i will vote in this government so they become strong and get things done. the opposition never even had tender before why they complain now when there is tender.

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  15. I can see many destructive comments appeared.

    It seems like 2 political parties involved.

    To Nexbis, congratulations on winning the tender.

    To Maldivians, as long as you don't have to pay upfront, why not?

    To the JEWS, f*** o.f.f

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  16. Really hope the gov should look into the references project this Nexbis have done or at least do some site visit or maybe ask their customer discreetly ...especially in Malaysia that i believe is none. Even their existing border control ICT system also in a very critical condition so..if our gov looking for solution plz look at the successful one..interesting thing is facial recognition technology is still not proven to be robust enough to be deploy in such comprehensive manner. So means we will be caught/trap in a "upgrade mode" that will disrupt ur implementation...trust me that is almost part of M'sian ICT Company Implementation style..

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