Malaysian security firm Nexbis offered laptops as “bribes” to the Department of Immigration and Emigration’s staff to proceed with a border control project, the Anti- Corruption Commission has said.
In a statement today, the ACC said Nexbis had given 14 inch Lenovo laptops to senior staff at the Department of Immigration on May 10, 2012 in order to “increase Immigration staff’s interest for the project, and to obtain their cooperation so that Nexbiz could proceed with the project.”
The government signed a concession with Nexbis in 2010 to install and operate a border control system. However, in 2011 the ACC ordered the government to terminate the contract claiming that then-Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim and a Finance Ministry official had abused their authority for undue financial gain in awarding Nexbis the MVR500 million (US$39 million) project.
Nexbiz appealed the commission’s order at the Civil Court. While the Civil Court ruled the ACC did not have the authority to terminate the contract, the High Court later overturned the lower court’s ruling.
In August 2013, the government terminated the agreement citing unspecified “major losses” to the state and replaced the project with a Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) provided by the US government. The parliament had also unanimously voted for termination of the contract in December 2012.
In September 2013, the Supreme Court upheld the Civil Court’s ruling declaring that the ACC did not have the legal authority to order the termination, noting the order was made after the agreement was signed.
According to the ACC, the concession agreement does not list laptops under project deliverables. Although the concession agreement says Nexbis must provide mobile enforcement tools to enforcement officers, laptops are not included in these tools.
The steering committee in charge of the project told the ACC that the laptops were given in order to facilitate communication between the project’s stakeholders, to conduct border control training and to test the system.
However, the Immigration Department’s IT staff told the ACC that every immigration staff member had a desktop computer and that laptops were not necessary for the outlined tasks.
Evidence shows “the project’s steering committee accepted the laptops as a bribe to enable Nexbiz and gave laptops to other Immigration staff as a bribe,” the ACC said.
The commission has recommended the prosecutor general file bribery charges against the steering committee for accepting bribes and offering bribes to other staff.
The steering committee includes former Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussein Ibrahim, and staff members Abdulla Waheed, Ibrahim Ashraf, Saeed Mohamed, and Ali Saeed.
If found guilty, the five may be sentenced to five years in jail, banishment, or house arrest.