The opposition coalition has called for the tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb to face an asset freeze and an investigation over allegations of corruption and bribery.
Defectors from the ruling coalition have in recent weeks accused Adeeb of a series of offences, including using rogue police officers to frame the former defence minister, employing gangs to harass opponents and buying gifts for the First Lady with ill-gotten money.
But Adeeb has dismissed the allegations as defamation. He denies giving first lady Fathimath Ibrahim a car, saying she bought it with her own money.
He was unavailable for further comment at the time of going to press.
Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla claimed Adeeb was in debt when he first assumed the tourism portfolio in 2012, but was now capable of distributing US$100,000 gifts such as a diamond ring for the first lady.
Addressing Adeeb at the opposition’s daily protest on Monday, Imran said: “You, more than all Maldivians, know you cannot buy all these gifts with your ministerial salary.”
He said individuals seeking an appointment with the tourism minister were asked to pay thousands of dollars, and alleged that Adeeb was taking millions of dollars under the table from investors interested in doing business in the Maldives.
Adeeb’s corruption will “very soon isolate you, make you destitute, without anyone to care for you,” Imran warned.
In response, Adeeb said in a tweet: “It’s funny that anyone who has uttered filth to President Nasheed & MDP in past, now need to shout my name to get MDP’s acceptance and support.”
The Adhaalath Party, which played a key role in president Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012, allied with his Maldivian Democratic Party after charges of smuggling weapons were brought against former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism while Nazim was sentenced to 11 years in jail last week.
The Maldivians Against Brutality coalition – made up of Adhaalath, MDP, members of the Jumhooree Party (JP) and members of Nazim’s family – today alleged corruption by the government relating to a recent deal to build a new commercial port in the Malé area.
The opposition would not accept such deals, Sheikh Imran said.
MDP chairperson Ali Waheed said the party has conducted a study of the “economic crimes” involved in Thilafushi, and south central Faafu and Dhaalu atolls.
Supporting an asset freeze, MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said Adeeb had hijacked the state’s watchdog institutions to ensure they would not investigate his corruption.
Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim was sacked by the PPM after he released a damning report implicating Adeeb in US$6million of corrupt transactions, Fahmy noted.
In the report, Adeeb is accused of funneling money from state companies to a company owned by his family and pocketing money paid by an Italian investor for a resort lease.
In Niyaz’s stead, the PPM appointed a family member of an individual implicated along with Adeeb by the report.
Adeeb at the time dismissed the report as baseless and said Niyaz had been influenced by PPM MP Ahmed Nazim, who he claimed had a personal grudge against him, to write the report.
Nazim was sentenced to life in jail last week over corruption charges in a case dating from 2004.
Fahmy said the government had tied up the hands of judges, the prosecutor general and anti-corruption watchdog by awarding them discounted flats in a luxury apartment complex.
President of the Anti Corruption Commission Hassan Luthfee is now residing in the Rehendhi flats.
When asked if the ACC is investigating any cases involving the tourism minister, the body’s vice president Muaviz Rasheed said it does not comment on specific individuals.
The Auditor General’s Office was not responding to queries at the time of going to press.