Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nazim has alleged state witnesses were offered jobs in exchange for testifying against him in a corruption trial.
The former Deputy Speaker of Majlis was charged with four counts of corruption in late 2009 for allegedly conspiring to defraud the former Ministry of Atolls Development.
In February 2014, the High Court upheld the Criminal Court’s dismissal of all four counts of corruption.
The appellate court upheld the Criminal Court’s refusal to accept testimony by Nazim’s former employees, referring to a Supreme Court precedent which established that accomplices to a crime could not testify for or against an alleged partner to the crime.
Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin appealed the High Court’s decision with the Supreme Court in July 2014, months after the 90-day appeal period expired.
“The two main state witnesses were bribed with political posts within the government. These charges are politically motivated,” Nazim told the Supreme Court today.
The atolls ministry scam – first flagged in a 2009 audit report – involved paper companies allegedly set up by Nazim to win bids for projects worth over US$400,000, including the fraudulent purchase of harbour lights, national flags, and mosque sound systems.
At the time, police alleged Nazim ordered his staff at Namira Engineering to set up paper companies to bid for public tenders, and channeled the money to Nazim through Namira and other unregistered companies
When Justice Adam Mohamed today asked state prosecutors why Nazim must be held responsible for fraud committed by Namira, state prosecutor Abdulla Rabiu pointed out the MP was the Managing Director of the company at the time and oversaw its daily activities.
All the money from the scam had gone to Namira’s accounts, he added.
Nazim’s employees had also testified they submitted bogus bids on the MP’s orders, in the name of nonexistent companies or in the name of other companies, without their knowledge, Rabiu said.
In response, Nazim’s lawyer Husnu Suood said an audit was necessary to prove the money was deposited into Namira’s accounts and claimed Nazim could not be held responsible for corrupt transactions carried out by the company.
Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed concluded today’s hearing stating the apex court would issue a verdict at the next hearing.
Nazim who was a close associate of President Abdulla Yameen appears to have fallen out of favour with the government, with the police withholding his passport on charges of blackmail in October.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at the time blamed Nazim for a damning report implicating the minister in a US$6million corruption scandal. Adeeb accused Nazim of attempting to defame him due to his refusal to support Nazim’s bid for the Majlis Speakership.
At the Supreme Court’s first appeal hearing, Nazim told the court his former lawyers Adam Asif and Ahmed “Reynis” Saleem had said the current political environment was “too dangerous” to represent him.
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