Government condemns obstruction of ACC investigation, calls on Civil Service Commission to investigate

The government has condemned the obstruction of an Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) investigation into the Immigration department, after immigration staff allegedly locked the investigators in a room, and called on the Civil Service Commission to investigate.

Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the government believed it is very important for the Civil Service Commission to look into the matter in order to prevent future obstructions to investigations by civil servants.

The offices of the Department of Immigration and Emigration were raided on Thursday by ACC officials with police assistance. The anti-corruption authority seized 75 laptops from the immigration offices, which it alleged had been provided to staff by Nexbis. Immigration staff told local media the laptops were part of the project being rolled out by the security firm.

The ACC accused immigration staff of obstructing and intimidating ACC officials during their investigation of the department, and said it would file a case.

The Nexbis contract – a 20-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement to upgrade the Maldives’ border control security system – was signed with Nexbis during the previous administration by President Mohamed Waheed’s brother in-law Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim, who served as the Controller of Immigration and Emigration at the time.

The day after the concessionaire contract was signed, the ACC announced it had received “a serious complaint” regarding “technical details” of the bid, and issued an injunction pending an investigation into the agreement citing “instances and opportunities” where corruption may have occurred.

The ACC in December 2011 forwarded cases of corruption against Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim and former Director General of Finance Ministry, Saamee Ageel to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG) .

The ACC alleged the pair had abused their authority for undue financial gain in giving the US$39 million Border Control System project to Malaysia’s Nexbis Limited.

Ilyas was reappointed as the Controller of Immigration and Emigration in February after President Waheed came to power. However, the President on Thursday transferred Ilyas Hussain to the Defense Ministry as the Nexbis case intensified, following the ACC’s raid.

“The President decided to transfer Ilyas as he is under investigation in an alleged corruption case,” confirmed Riza. “It is in the best interest of the situation as his name is everywhere these days.”

The ACC was not responding at time of press.