Leaked Theemuge invoices “few among thousands”: MP Rozaina

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam has said that invoices from the former presidential palace Theemuge she leaked through Twitter on Friday were “just a few among thousands” at the parliament’s Finance Committee.

In a press statement issued in response to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s attorney denying wrongdoing by the Gayoom family, the DRP MP for Thulusdhoo noted that the former president’s lawyer had neither contested the authenticity of the bills and invoices nor denied that the expenses were made out of the Theemuge budget.

Gayoom’s lawyer Ibrahim Waheed had insisted in a press statement on Sunday that all expenditure out of the presidential palace was “in accordance with the rules and regulations” as parliament had approved the funds for the palace.

However, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim told newspaper Haveeru today that the state should recover funds used by former presidents on their families and associates. Lack of legislation explicitly prohibiting such expenses was not an obstacle to recovering the misappropriated funds, the Auditor General contended.

He noted that there was no law that authorised the use of public funds for personal expenses, adding that assistance from state funds should be provided on an equal and fair basis.

“Even if its Nasheed, Waheed or Maumoon, no one can spend state funds for their own personal use,” Niyaz was quoted as saying.

While the Theemuge audit report for 2007 and 2008 was released in April 2009, Rozaina meanwhile explained that the Auditor General’s Office sent bills from the former presidential palace to the parliament’s powerful public accounts oversight committee in 2012.

The damning audit report revealed that extravagant expenses for the Gayoom family were made out of the Theemuge Welfare Fund, earmarked for helping the poor.

In addition to the invoices she posted on Friday, Rozaina revealed that documents at the committee showed that former First Lady Nasreena Ibrahim took US$50,000 in cash during a trip to Dubai on May 6, 2007.

In her statement, Rozaina noted the expenses she exposed on Friday in Maldivian Rufiya: MVR193,209 on trouser material in 2008; MVR116,373 for Gayoom’s daughter Yumna Maumoon’s stay in Singapore’s Grand Hyatt Hotel in 2007; MVR364,958 for Yumna’s stay at the same hotel during the previous year; MVR202,096 for Yumna’s husband Nadeem, Gayoom’s son Gassan Maumoon and his wife Swineetha’s stay in the hotel; and over MVR29,000 for Gassan’s spectacles.

On Waheed’s claim that the expenses were lawful, Rozaina noted that the former Auditor General had recommended recovering the funds used by Gayoom’s family and associates and pressing charges against the former president for misappropriation of public funds.

The audit report had noted that over US$ 3 million earmarked for helping the poor was spent on “the president’s relatives, ministers and their families, senior government officials and some MPs.”

The report stated that 49 percent of the palace’s budget, equivalent to MVR 48.2 million (US$3,750,000 at the time), was diverted from the budget for the poor in 2007 and 52 percent, MVR 44.9 million (US$3,500,000), in 2008.

Rozaina meanwhile went on to say that she believed the public should know of the extravagant spending by the former president’s family, as it was done at a time when a large number of Maldivian citizens displaced by the tsunami were living in temporary shelters.

The family’s shopping sprees in London and stays in expensive hotels in Singapore could have paid for a number of infrastructure projects in her constituency alone, Rozaina noted, such as building classrooms in Kaafu Huraa or establishing sewerage systems in Kaafu Thulusdhoo, Himmafushi and Dhiffushi.


DRP MP Rozaina leaks invoices exposing extravagant spending of former President Gayoom’s family

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam leaked invoices and bills through Twitter on Friday, exposing the extravagant expenses of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s family out of the former presidential palace Theemuge’s budget allocated for helping the poor.

Responding to allegations of corruption against her father by supporters of former President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which were backed by PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof, MP Rozaina claimed that Mahloof was given SGD$28,000 out of the Theemuge budget for a “nose job”.

After suggesting that the MP for Thulusdhoo was “possessed by jinns,” MP Mahloof replied that he received assistance from the Theemuge budget for “a serious surgery,” adding, “it was not theft.”

Rozaina however went on to post photos of invoices from Theemuge for purchases of jewelry and other items as well as hotel bills from Singapore for Gayoom’s family and associates, challenging the PPM MP to defend the lavish expenses.

According to Rozaina, the invoices were sent to parliament’s Finance Committee this year attached to the Theemuge audit report for 2007 and 2008. Reviewing audit reports of state institutions is part of the powerful public accounts oversight committee’s mandate.

Among the invoices made public by the DRP MP was a US$30,698 bill for tickets to London for former First Lady Nasreena Ibrahim and five others.

MP Rozaina alleged that the tickets were for “a shopping trip to London by Madam Nasreena and friends at the state’s expense.”

Other expenses included SGD$2,254 for the former President’s son’s spectacles and US$4,284 for fabrics bought in India.

An invoice dated March 31, 2008 showed SGD$14,977 spent for trouser material (polyester viscose), which was authorised and signed by former Executive Director of the Presidential Palace Ismail Faiz.

On December 20, 2006, a purple gold diamond pendant for SGD$824 and purple gold diamond bracelet for SGD$1,510 were bought using Nasreena’s credit card.

Yet another invoice showed over SGD$28,000 paid out of the Theemuge account to the Grand Hyatt in Singapore.

“Yumna’s [Abdul Gayoom] hotel bill from the funds allocated to the Theemuge budget to help impoverished citizens,” MP Rozaina explained.

MP Rozaina also uploaded a credit card statement amounting to US$12,456 dated July 31, 2008 of a shopping spree in London.

“Documentary evidence”

Pressed by Twitter users as to why she had not spoken about the Theemuge expenses before, Rozaina tweeted, “I thought auditor general was politicising. He sent all the bills this year.”

“Previously it was just a report,” she added. “Documentary evidence was sent to the Majlis only this year.”

The MP for Thulusdhoo revealed that parliament’s Finance Committee was reviewing the Theemuge audit report.

MP Rozaina’s husband and DRP MP for Raa Atoll Alifushi, Mohamed Nashiz, is the deputy chair of the committee.

Speaking in parliament last week, MP Rozaina alleged that the Maldivian embassy in the UK spent funds out of its budget to hold a birthday party for Gassan Maumoon, youngest son of former President Gayoom.

Replying to former Transport Minister Adhil Saleem on Twitter, who encouraged her to “tell the world” as there was “no going back,” Rozaina tweeted: “I would never even think of going back. These people are criminals. Specially MAG’s [Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s] good for nothing kids spending ppls [people’s] money.”

In September 2011, former President Gayoom left the DRP to form the PPM following an acrimonious split within the DRP and a public spat with his successor and former vice-presidential candidate, DRP Leader and MP for Baa Atoll Kendhoo Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, brother-in-law of MP Rozaina.

One of the leaked credit card statements

“In accordance with rules and regulations”

Meanwhile, the former President’s attorney, Ibrahim Waheed, released a press statement today countering Rozaina’s allegations. Waheed insisted that all expenditure out of Theemuge was “in accordance with the rules and regulations” and in line with the former presidential palace’s budget approved by parliament.

Waheed added that all records and documentation of expenditure were left at the palace files when the former president left office in November 2008. After President Mohamed Nasheed assumed the presidency, he moved the official presidential residence to Muleeage and relocated the Supreme Court and High Court to the former palace.

The statement from Gayoom’s lawyer went on to dismiss Rozaina’s allegations as “baseless” and “bald-faced lies.”

Waheed suggested that the DRP MPs’ accusations were motivated “out of jealousy” caused by the loss of support for her party and the growing strength of PPM, which was “as evident as the noon-day sun.”

The statement further claimed that the Presidential Commission formed by former President Nasheed to investigate corruption and misappropriation of funds – uncovered in over 30 audit reports – failed to find any wrongdoing by Gayoom.

Responding to the statement on Twitter today, Rozaina argued that although Gayoom was the highest authority in the land under the old “blue constitution,” public funds were “misused” when it was spent on the former President’s family and associates.


In April 2009, former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem – the country’s first independent auditor general, who was appointed by Gayoom in January 2008 – released a damning audit report (English) of the presidential palace’s finances, revealing that over US$ 3 million earmarked for helping the poor was spent on “the president’s relatives, ministers and their families, senior government officials and some MPs.”

The report stated that 49 percent of the palace’s budget, equivalent to MVR 48.2 million (US$3,750,000 at the time), was diverted from the budget for the poor in 2007 and 52 percent, MVR 44.9 million (US$3,500,000), in 2008.

“We believe this is corruption and misappropriation of public funds,” the former Auditor General stated.

An examination of invoices revealed that funds intended for the poor were instead spent on medical trips to Singapore by “influential senior officials”.

This included their travel expenses, stay in expensive hotels, food, taxi fare, long-term apartment rental and medical check-ups.

More than SGD$ 2.3 million (US$1,500,000) was spent on one of Gayoom’s relatives and his family on trips to Singapore throughout 2007 and SGD$ 1.4 million (US$930,000) for another relative and his family for multiple trips to Singapore.

In March 2008, SGD$23,756 (US$16,000) was spent for a minister’s grandson to stay in a hotel in Singapore for 21 days; in April, SGD$50,022 (US$33,000) was spent on medical expenses for a friend of the president’s; and in July 2008, SGD$6,905 (US$4,600) was spent on two pairs of glasses for a minister and his wife.

US$13,000 in cash was given to the leader of an unnamed political party on different occasions throughout 2008.

The funds, spent by the Maldives Government Trade Centre (MGTC) in Singapore, were to be reimbursed by Theemuge.

Invoices and statements of the expenses revealed that most of the trips were arranged via a note or telephone call from Theemuge rather than through a formal procedure.

The invoices leaked by Rozaina showed that “verbal authorisation” was given by Theemuge senior officials.

“Therefore, as these expenses were made to gain the love, loyalty and support of the recipients, and since these expenses were not made for state purposes or for the benefit of all citizens, we note that these expenses were made unlawfully from the budget for personal benefit and gain,” the audit report stated.

The audit report further revealed that funds were unaccounted for in the construction of the presidential palace, which exceeded its budget by US$1.7 million. The total cost of the project amounted to MVR 207 million (US$17 million).

Moreover, an average of MVR 5,500 (US$430) a day was spent on food for the former President and his family – equivalent to one month’s wages for an employee working at the palace at the time.


State spent Rf1.3 million on Gayooms’ health expenses 2010-2012

A total of Rf1.3 million (US$84,300) was spent on healthcare costs for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his wife from 2010 to April this year, MP Ahmed Hamza of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) revealed at parliament’s Finance Committee meeting yesterday.

The MP for Bilehdhoo revealed the figures during committee deliberations on a request by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to establish rules and guidelines for covering health expenses for former presidents and their spouses.

According to the Finance Ministry, Rf302,560 (US$19,621) was spent for the Gayooms’ healthcare in 2010, Rf713,803 (US$46,290) in 2011 and Rf298,572 (US$19,363) so far this year.

Article 7 of the Protection and Privileges for Former Presidents Act (Dhivehi) – the first piece of legislation passed by the then-opposition majority parliament after convening in May 2009 – stipulates that healthcare for ex-presidents and their spouses either in the Maldives or overseas shall be provided by the state.

The law however does not set any limits to the health expenses to be borne by the state.

In addition to healthcare costs, Rf3.86 million (US$250,324) was spent on the former president’s office in 2010, Rf2.1 million (US$136,187) in 2011 and Rf700,000 (US$45,396) as of April this year.

Finance Committee
Finance Committee meeting on 12 June

Local media reported that following discussions at the Finance Committee yesterday, MPs decided to recommend that the Finance Ministry purchase a health insurance package for former presidents.

MP Hamza suggested offering an insurance package similar to those provided to retired high-ranking officials at the United Nations.

MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem of Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) reportedly insisted that the package should cover all forms of treatment to be in compliance with article 7 of the Protection and Privileges Act.

However, most MPs concurred that there should be a ceiling limit for healthcare costs for former presidents.

The legislation on protection and privileges for ex-presidents was required under article 128 of the constitution, which states, “A person who has served in the office of president, serving his term of office lawfully without committing any offence, shall be entitled to the highest honour, dignity, protection, financial privileges and other privileges entitled to a person who has served in the highest office of the land. Such protection and privileges shall be specified in law.”


Prior to the passage of the Act in October 2009, MPs of the then-ruling MDP denounced the monetary benefits in the draft legislation as excessive and “unreasonable.”

The bill stipulated a monthly allowance of Rf75,000 (US$6,000) in addition to Rf50,000 (US$4,000) for housing and Rf175,000 (US$14,000) for staff and office space.

The ruling party said at the time that the total figure would shoot up once the cost of health, transportation and security was taken into account, estimating that a total of Rf3 million (US$233,000) would be spent a month on former President Gayoom.

MDP MP for Hithadhoo North, Mohamed Aslam, observed that ex-presidents would be allowed to seek medical care anywhere in the world at the state’s expense.

“The benefits are too high as Rf300,000 (US$19,450) a month for someone who has retired is beyond reasonable expectations,” Aslam had argued. “Also, the government is in a financial crisis and it will be difficult to pay such a huge amount.”