The High Court today concluded hearing witness statements in the state’s appeal of Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim acquittal by the Criminal Court on charges of corruption, ahead of delivering a final verdict at a later date.
Nazim stands accused of receiving more than US$400,000 through fraudulent transactions made by a company he was found to own.
At today’s hearing, the prosecution lawyer noted that the Criminal Court had previously dismissed the testimonies of witnesses submitted by the state against Nazim. The High Court would now decide on whether to take the witness statements into account before a final verdict on the case is delivered.
The Criminal Court ruled in February last year that the witnesses submitted to the court were all staffs at a company called NAMIRA, which is owned by Nazim and at the centre of the alleged corruption. The court concluded at the time that staff involved in the alleged fraud could not be presented as witnesses and dismissed their statements.
At today’s hearing, the prosecution lawyer was reported as stating to the court that it was apparent that staff at NAMIRA had not benefited at all from the alleged corruption. The lawyer argued that they therefore would not have had any involvement in the case had they not been asked by Nazim himself.
Before concluding today’s hearing, the presiding judge announced that unless the court required clarification on any further details of the trial, a verdict on the case would be delivered during the next hearing.
Deputy Speaker Nazim was not responding to calls at time of press.
In late 2009, Nazim was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the former Atolls Ministry.
However, in February 2012, the Criminal Court dismissed the case against Nazim and ruled that there were no grounds to prosecute him.
The alleged corruption at the centre of the trial – first flagged in an audit report released in early 2009 – involved paper companies allegedly set up by the defendant to win bids for projects worth several hundred thousands dollars.
The case began in late 2009, after police uncovered evidence that implicated Nazim in a number of fraudulent transactions.
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 (Mrf 3,446,950).
Police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques proving that Nazim received over US$400,000 in the case.
A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May 2009, allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letter heads.
Police further alleged that MP ‘Red Wave’ Saleem actively assisted from the atoll ministry. Meanwhile, Nazim’s wife, Zeenath Abdullah, was accused of abusing her position as a manager of the Bank of Maldives’ Villingili branch to deposit proceeds from the scheme.