Athif requests opportunity to respond to allegations against him

Ibrahim Athif Shakoor: Former Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). (File Photo)

Former Head of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Athif Shakoor has asked Public Finance Committee of the Parliament for an opportunity to respond to the remarks made regarding him by officials from Bank of Maldives (BML).

Senior officials of BML were summoned for questioning regarding the MVR 1.4 billion MMPRC embezzlement and money laundering case by Public Finance Committee on Tuesday.

During the session, BML’s interim risk officer, Yamin Adam said the bank allowed the deposit of endorsed cheques from MMPRC to SOF Private Limited to proceed at instructions of then-Maldives Monetary Authority deputy governor Neeza Imad and then-head of Finance Intelligence Unit Athif Shakoor.

Athif, this Wednesday, submitted a letter addressed to the chair of the parliamentary committee, Kinbidhoo MP Abdulla Riyaz, requesting an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him by both BML and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

At the questioning session last Tuesday, BML’s interim risk officer Yamin said the bank flagged SOF’s transactions for possible money laundering activity on November 25, 2014, and reported the suspicious transactions to FIU on November 27, 2014.

He said that Neeza, who had been in charge of overseeing FIU at the time, instructed the bank not to hold SOF’s account and allow the transactions to proceed. And that Athif, who had been head of FIU but on annual leave at the time, repeated Neeza’s instructions upon return.

ACC, following its investigation into the lack of action by FIU despite SOF’s transactions being flagged for money laundering in 2014, found Athif accountable for the failure of the unit.

MMPRC was due USD 77.55 million, but received only USD 12.5 million in acquisition fees for lease of islands for resort development. The rest was embezzled and laundered. USD 5.3 million was laundered through SOF.