Yazeed denies hiding aspects of MMPRC corruption case

Commissioner of Taxation, Mohamed Yazeed responds to questions by Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on August 26, 2019. (Photo/Sun/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

Several members of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament have accused Commissioner General of Taxation Mohamed Yazeed of working from within the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority to hide aspects of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation embezzlement case.

Yazeed and senior MIRA officials were summoned for questioning regarding the audit on the MMPRC embezzlement case this Monday.

At the meeting, Dhaandhoo MP Yauqoob Abdulla asked Yazeed why MIRA refused to disclose information requested by the Auditor General’s Office for its audit on the MMPRC case despite repeated requests, and whether he disclosed details of the information requested by the Auditor General’s Office with former Vice President and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor.

In response to the questions, Yazeed said the Auditor General’s Office had originally requested information on Montilion – one of the companies accused of laundering the funds embezzled from MMPRC.

He said that MIRA held a meeting with the Auditor General’s Office in response to the request, and disclosed the information they were able to.

Yazeed said that the Auditor General’s Office later asked MIRA if they were in possession on a lease agreement for Dh. Maagau, and that MIRA informed the Auditor General’s Office that it hadn’t received any such document.

Yazeed said that Auditor General’s Office next asked MIRA for tax return details on a private company. He said that the Board of MIRA convened for a meeting as it involved confidential information regarding a tax payer, during which it was decided MIRA cannot disclose the information as the law prohibits the disclosure confidential information regarding tax payers.

“MIRA was fully cooperative with the audit. It will be apparent to you if you review the subsequent audits. It doesn’t make any accusations against us,” said Yazeed. “The Board made the decision after seeking legal advice. And it was as per protocol.”

Yazeed also said that he never communicated with Adeeb in violation of MIRA protocols, and never disclosed information to him.

He said that he never had any personal communication with Adeeb, and did not disclose information regarding the request by Auditor General’s Office via email.

“MIRA has never disclosed information in violation of laws and regulations with anyone,” said Yazeed. “Any information which MIRA shares goes through MIRA’s servers.”

Yazeed said that the recovery of funds earned by the State through lease of islands and lagoon does not fall within MIRA’s legal mandate. He said that lease agreements do not establish that payments for lease of islands and lagoons is payable to MIRA, but to the Tourism Ministry.

He said that MIRA collects funds which aren’t tax money if requested by a relevant authority, but that the responsibility of establishing the necessary policies and the necessary agreement lies with the relevant authorities, and not with MIRA.

“We won’t have any knowledge of anything which isn’t within our mandate.  MIRA’s mandate is solely obtain tax money under the Tax Act. This is our mandate. And there’s the money other parties request us to collect,” said Yazeed.

Yazeed said that MIRA had been in possession of only 11 lease agreements when the MMPRC case broke out. But that all the lease agreements have now been shared with MIRA by the Tourism Ministry.