Former immigration controller pleads not guilty to corruption charges

Former Controller of Immigration and current State Minister for Defence Sheikh Ilyas Hussain pleaded not guilty to corruption charges at the Criminal Court on Wednesday (April 10).

Ilyas – brother-in-law of President Dr Mohamed Waheed – was charged with abuse of authority to benefit a third party in awarding a contract to Malaysia-based mobile security firm Nexbis to establish a border control system (BCS).

At the first hearing of the trial, Ilyas’ lawyer requested 30 days to study the evidence presented against the ex-controller. Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed reportedly granted the defence counsel’s request.

Ilyas is accused of omitting from the concession agreement clauses that required Nexbis to provide 29 scholarships and 200,000 identity cards free of charge. The clauses were in the original technical proposal submitted by Nexbis to the tender evaluation board.

If convicted, the state minister could face either a jail term of up to three years, banishment or house arrest.

The case against Ilyas was forwarded to the PGO in December 2011 by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). In September 2012, the ACC informed parliament’s Finance Committee that the BSC agreement would cost the Maldives MVR 2.5 billion (US$162 million) in potential lost revenue over the lifetime of the contract.