ACC forwards cases against senior officials of Thilafushi Corporation for prosecution

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has concluded its investigation into alleged corruption committed by the Thilafushi Corporation Ltd (TCL) in awarding a land reclamation project to Heavy Load Maldives – a family business of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairman ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – and sent cases against three senior TCL officials for prosecution.

The three members of the bid evaluation committee facing corruption charges are Managing Director Mohamed Wafir, Director Mohamed Adhil Rasheed and former Acting Manager Ibrahim Riyaz.

A statement put out by the ACC yesterday noted that the US$21 million project was not awarded with the advice of the TCL board and in violation of the government-owned company’s operating procedures.

The ACC investigation found that TCL provided US$3 million to Heavy Load as a mobilisation payment without the approval of either the engineer or the board’s majority.

Moreover, TCL accepted three vessels worth US$1.8 million as advance payment security without a valuation of the vessels. The security document was signed by a director of Heavy Load Maldives while a board resolution from the company authorising the director to sell or mortgage assets was not submitted.

Based on its finding, the ACC concluded that the three evaluation committee members tried to “illegally benefit a particular party” in the awarding of the project.

In addition, the ACC found that TCL was in the process of revising the project and replacing its engineer, Abdulla Ziyad, as the contractor appeared unlikely to complete the project on time.

The dredging was part of TCL’s development of a new port catering to 15,000 ton cargo ships and container terminal, on 3.8 million square foot of land. The industrial zone development project is partly intended to free up land currently occupied by the port in Male’, one of the most densely populated cities in the world at over 100,000 people per square kilometre.

Meanwhile, in a second statement put out today, the ACC revealed that it had also requested the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) to prosecute TCL’s Corporate and Legal Affairs Manager Mohamed Latheef as he had failed to provide a copy of a board resolution approving the decision to sue the ACC after it ordered the project to be halted.

Latheef had assured the ACC on August 21 that he would send a copy to the commission, the statement noted.

TCL sued the ACC on April 21 claiming the commission’s order to stop work on the US$21 million Thilafushi reclamation project was not legally justifiable.

In April, TCL lawyer Mazlan Rasheed argued at the Civil Court that the ACC did not have legal authority to order the government corporation to scrap the project, which was was both “irresponsible” and “unlawful” as the order was made before the commission completed its investigation process.

TCL therefore requested that the Civil Court declare the ACC order unlawful, he said.

ACC lawyer Areef Ahmed Naseer however denied the claims, insisting that the commission acted within legal bounds.

Heavy Load Maldives was awarded the US$21 million project on September 30 last year, and inaugurated the project on February 4, 2011.

MP Moosa Manik told Minivan News in February this year that the commission’s order was politically motivated, claiming that “there is a part of the ACC that is not free and fair.”

“PA’s Deputy Leader [Ahmed] Nazim is very close with one of the commission members, [Abdulla] Hilmy, which needs closer investigation,” Moosa claimed. “I am a strong part of this government and I think this is a political trick. I haven’t even been into the Heavy Load office in one and a half months because of my campaigning [in the local council elections]. It is run by my family, my children.”

In an audio clip of a leaked phone call between Nazim and MP Abdulla Yameen that emerged in July 2010, the Deputy Speaker is heard to say that he has “given warnings” to ACC members to issue a press release, presumably regarding dismissed Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem.


“I am majority leader now”: Reeko Moosa

The fractured main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is no longer the majority party in parliament with its coalition with minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) on the verge of collapsing, claims ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group Leader “Reeko” Moosa Manik.

“I am very sad that they have broken the coalition,” Moosa told reporters outside parliament today. “They [DRP MPs] have said as much in the media. But they are hesitant to show that in the Majlis registry. They are still waiting. If so, [DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali] won’t be Majority Leader anymore. I am the parliament’s Majority Leader now.”

Of the 77 MPs in parliament, the MDP currently has 33 MPs to the DRP’s 27 and PA’s seven.

The MDP MP for Hulhu-Henveiru suggested that his party’s new majority was evident in this week’s vote on ministerial appointees after Home Minister Hassan Afeef was narrowly approved in spite of the DRP declaring that it would reject three nominees.

Meanwhile PA Leader Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, revealed on private broadcaster DhiTV last week that the party would be reviewing its coalition agreement with the DRP – which “exists only in name” – in light of recent events.

In a move that strained the relationship further, PA Deputy Leader Ahmed Nazim recently sued DRP Leader Thasmeen in Civil Court to recover almost Rf2 million (US$155,000) allegedly owed to him.

Internecine strife

Moosa’s remarks today come a day after DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed publicly called upon the party’s council not to “maintain a coalition [with PA] only in name.”

Referring to yesterday’s vote on approving members to the Broadcasting Commission, Waheed alleged that the PA together with the ‘Gayoom faction’ MPs struck a deal with the MDP to vote through an agreed upon list.

Moosa however denied the allegations of collusion with the PA, claiming that “the only deal we will make them is an agreement for a [formal] coalition.”

Yesterday’s parliament sitting grew heated during the vote on members to the Broadcasting Commission when DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf broke the party’s three-line whip on the fifth nominee, prompting Waheed to raise a point of order demanding to know whether the voting machines were malfunctioning.

After repeatedly advising the Thohdhoo MP to take his seat and then ordering him out, Speaker Abdulla Shahid called a short recess when Waheed refused to leave the chamber.

Waheed revealed afterward that three nominees chosen by the DRP were defeated in yesterday’s vote.

The intensifying allegations and counter-allegations highlight the growing distrust between the rival opposition factions, split between supporters of DRP Leader Thasmeen and loyalists of former President Gayoom.

Earlier this week, DRP MP Ali Azim accused the PA and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim of conspiring to send two DRP MPs abroad ahead of Monday’s vote on cabinet appointments.

Gasim told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that he was not obliged to follow the DRP’s whip line, putting the accusations down to “failure to digest their internal problems,” adding that “those feelings are now exploding like a bomb.”

The former presidential candidate asserted that “if we elect a government it should also have a cabinet.”

Gasim had abstained in the vote on Hassan Afeef while he had voted for Transport Minister Adil Saleem.


MP Nasheed proposes resolution to determine ‘laws inconsistent with the constitution’

Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed yesterday proposed a resolution in parliament to determine existing laws “inconsistent” with the country’s constitution.

Proposing the bill, Nasheed said that according to the constitution it was a duty of the executive to assemble a list of articles of the constitution inconsistent with the laws within 30 days of commencement of the constitution, and that it was a duty of MPs to amend those laws within 90 days after the inconsistent articles were presented.

MP Nasheed said the government had done its duty and presented a list of laws inconsistent with the constitution and that he regretted the duty of the MPs was still incomplete.

The constitution was established in August 7, 2008.

”After two months, it will be two years from the date we authenticated the constitution,” MP Nasheed said, ”so there is a duty of the parliament unfulfilled, and that’s why I presented this resolution – to complete one of these duties.”

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza said he supported the resolution presented by MP Nasheed.

”The parliament is the place where have to bow our heads to laws the most,” MP Hamza said, ”therefore, we would have to compete the duties assigned to us under article 299 [of the constitution],”

MP Hamza said that there were many difficulties faced because parliamentarians had failed to complete this task.

”There are some ongoing court trails charged against this constitution,” MP Hamza said. ”Former president [Maumoon Abdul Gayum] has charged some people of my area [Bilehdhoo] over protesting against him during the last presidential elections campaign.”

MP Hamza said that although the parliament had not revoked the laws contradicting articles in the constitution, they would still be void.

”I would like to tell the Police, Prosecutor General’s office, the courts and Anti Corruption Commission that the powers given to them by former laws which are inconsistent with the constitution are all void,” he said.

People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Azeez Jamaal Abubakuru also said he supported the resolution presented by MP Nasheed.

”This resolution should not be debated for long, and all the MPs should accept that this is our duty,” said Jamaal.

”I would like to thank MP Nasheed for presenting this as a resolution and would like to repeat that it is an important issue and should hasten to complete it soon.”

MDP MP and leader of MDP parliamentary group ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik also said he supported the resolution.

”It is not the responsibility of MDP or the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party [DRP] to make laws for the country,” Moosa said. ”It is the responsibility of the parliament.”

”We handed this first to a person called the speaker of the parliament – not to run the whole parliament, but to operate and supervise the administrative duties of the parliament,” Moosa said. ”We never thought that this matter would be raised by the former information minister, instead we feel the speaker and deputy speaker of the parliament should have brought this to our attention.”

He suggested that the MPs should work every day until midnight until the duties mentioned in article 299 were completed.

DRP deputy leader and MP Ali Waheed said that his party would “fully co-operate” with the work.