ACC highlights irregularities in finances of Maldives Entertainment Company

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has released findings of an investigation into the finances of the Maldives Entertainment Company Ltd (MECL), highlighting discrepancies and irregularities in the company’s financial records.

According to a press statement by the ACC on Thursday, the investigation of the 100 percent state-owned corporation was prompted by numerous complaints regarding its expenses, inventory and high salaries of board members.

“Even though records of expenditure were kept, the figures in the records and the actual amount withdrawn from the [corporation’s] bank account differs,” the ACC findings noted.

“While company records show that Rf676,262.95 (US$43,800) was spent, the bank account showed that Rf807,703.95 (US$52,300) was withdrawn for expenses. Therefore, Rf134,470 was withdrawn from the bank without any record [of how the money was spent].”

Discrepancies in income statements meanwhile revealed that Rf524,121 (US$33,900) worth of income was not entered into QuickBooks (accounting software) records.

Moreover, as a result of the corporation’s spending exceeding its revenue, MECL currently has outstanding debts amounting to Rf122,178.98 (US$7,900), owed to various parties for purchases and services.

“As a result of incomplete documentation and failure to properly maintain records of the company’s expenses and revenue, the legitimacy of the details of expenditure and revenue cannot be guaranteed,” the ACC findings noted.

Moreover, there was no record of the income generated or expenses incurred for a Boney M concert last year.

In addition, a list of assets transferred to the corporation upon its formation were not registered in its inventory.

The ACC findings noted that board members were paid salaries “disproportionate to the income [the corporation] generates through its limited resources.”

“While Rf1 million (US$64,850) was provided by the Finance Ministry in four installments as MECL’s capital and Rf250,000 was received for each installment, instead of spending the money for the company’s other expenses, the bulk of it was spent on salaries for board members,” the ACC found.

However the ACC discovered that among the board members only the Managing Director of the board was being paid a monthly salary at present, “[but] the company’s staff are being paid monthly salaries with no records of attendance.”

The ACC has informed the Finance Ministry as well as the corporation’s board to take remedial measures in connection with the findings.

The press statement however added that the ACC was continuing its inquiries as it had “noted matters that have to be further investigated.”


Government to host Boney M concert after Sri Lankan organiser arrested for fraud

A Sri Lankan man is being held by police for charges of fraud connected with the recently postponed Boney M concert.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed the Sri Lankan national has been in police custody since Thursday and will be taken to court later this evening.

The Mega International Music Fiesta, which was scheduled to take place at the Galolhu National Stadium in Malé on 14 April, was being organised by Pro Maldives Inc Ltd (also known as Pro Models) in partnership with Sri Lankan company ‘Rokomaestro Inc USA’.

The event was cancelled at the last minute and managing director of Pro Models Mohamed Nizam told media although they had not received any pressure or complaints, the show had to be postponed and there would be a full refund for people who had already bought tickets.

Tickets were sold at Rf 250 and 500 (US$19.5 and US$39).

Minivan News was unable to find a website, business registration or contact details for any company called ‘Rokomaestro Inc USA’ in Sri Lanka.

A ‘completely new show’

The original show would have starred disco legends Boney M and featured British reggae legends Aswad and North American rapper Bubba Sparxxx.

The Maldives Entertainment Company Ltd, backed by the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports, has now taken over planning and executing the event, which will be held on 26 April in Dharubaaruge.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, said the concert was postponed because “the agency in charge of delivering the stars here had some technical difficulties.”

He said Boney M cancelled the show because of these “technical difficulties”. Zuhair said Pro Models then “appealed to the government for help” and the government agreed because they felt it would be “good for the country.”

He added refunds were being given for those who bought the original tickets.

Minister for Human Resources, Youth and Sports, Hassan Lateef, said the original show was “a flop” because the companies in charge of organising the event “couldn’t bring [Boney M] down to the Maldives.”

“There was not enough communication with Boney M management,” Lateef said, “so [Boney M] cancelled.”

He said he had no suspicion that the previous organisers were playing a scam on ticket buyers, and added it was “a lack of trust” on the part of Boney M management that stopped the show from taking place on its original date.

Lateef said because tickets had been sold and the public had the expectation of seeing the show, “the government intervened” and Boney M’s appearance has been confirmed for 26 April.

He added the agreement is being sent to Boney M management for signing today.

“A lot of things were not arranged properly,” he said, noting that advanced payments were not made and the event organisers had trouble in getting the members to the Maldives.

Lateef said the ministry had not received any complaints about the Boney M concert and added, “I have received calls from government officials… a lot of people have made bookings.”

He acknowledged “it’s not good for the government to host a show,” but assured the government has no intention of hosting other events in the future. “Because of how things went, we had to intervene,” he said.

Lateef also noted this is “a totally new show”, distinct from the original ‘International Fiesta’, and new tickets are required.

“I heard the [original] tickets have been refunded,” he said, and advised people to buy tickets for the new show “as soon as possible” as there is limited seating in the new venue.

The new show, which will feature an original member of Boney M, will feature a local band, but he said the local artists have still not been selected.