Former presidential advisor Ahmed ‘Sandhaanu’ Didi has accused Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad of illegally selling off Fushidhiggaru Lagoon in Kaafu Atoll without the knowledge of then – President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
Speaking at a press conference today, Didi showed an agreement signed between the government and Ukranian company Prime Capital Pvt Ltd during Waheed’s administration on developing Fushidhiggaru.
The former Special Envoy on Human Rights claimed Waheed only discovered news of the deal when the investors attempted to register a joint venture company at the Ministry of Economic Development, but said both ministers denied the move at the time.
“I was at the president’s office then. Dr Waheed summoned Adeeb and Jihad and asked whether Fushidhiggaru lagoon had been sold off to a foreign party and they denied that any such thing was done,” he told the press.
Neither Adeeb nor Jihad were responding to calls at the time of press.
The Fushidhiggaru deal first came to light during the 2013 presidential elections, when current Home Minister Umar Naseer claimed Adeeb had sold off the lagoon without a transparent and public bidding process.
JP coalition claimed that the agreement was compiled, signed and stamped without legal advice from the Attorney General, in the late hours of January 18, 2013, a Friday night.
At the time, Adeeb denied the existence of an “official” lease agreement and dismissed the allegations as an attempt at “political assassination.”
Despite Adeeb’s denial, local media in September 2013 reported that the Economic Ministry had refused to register a joint venture company for the development of Fushidhiggaru lagoon with Prime Capital.
The company subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Economic Ministry at the Civil Court.
In a verdict (Dhivehi) delivered on July 15, Civil Court Judge Ali Naseer ordered the government to register the joint venture company within a seven-day period, sign a master lease agreement within five days of registration, “and [to] make all arrangements undertaken by the government in accordance with the agreement.”
Didi today said he has submitted relevant documents and letters to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Anti-corruption Commission and Maldives Police Services requesting the matter be investigated.
“This is the most deceitful and biggest embezzlement in recent Maldivian history,” he said.
“I am aware that by talking about this I am endangering my own safety, but this must be done for the future generation. Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him advised us to reveal the truth no matter how bitter it may be.”
Didi was imprisoned in 2003 for writing and distributing a newsletter called “Sandhaanu” which criticized President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s policies.
Former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim in November released a report implicating Adeeb in a US$6million corruption scandal.
Adeeb has denied allegations, and accused Niyaz of colluding with MP and former Deputy Speaker of parliament Ahmed Nazim in releasing the audit report. Adeeb suggested Nazim had a personal vendetta against him following his refusal to support Nazim for the Majlis Speakership in May.
Niyaz was subsequently dismissed from the post through a surprise amendment to the Audit Act, and Hassan Ziyath, the brother of an official implicated alongside Adeeb, was appointed as the new Auditor General.
The Criminal Court on October 26 withheld Nazim’s passport on allegations of blackmail while the Supreme Court today held the first hearing into an appeal of the High Court’s acquittal of Nazim from four counts of corruption.
Photo: President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet
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