ACC requests corruption charges against Mayor Shifa

Male' City mayor Shifa Mohamed. (Sun Photo/Muzain Nazim)

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has requested the Prosecutor General’s Office for criminal charges against incumbent Male’ City Mayor Shifa Mohamed, after finding evidence of corruption in awarding a contract to develop a public park in the capital.

ACC announced on Tuesday that it has completed its investigation into the case, and has requested the Prosecutor General’s Office for Shifa to be charged with misuse of official authority as a public official to obtain an undue benefit for one’s own self or for another under Section 513 (b) of the Penal Code.

The project to develop Adi Park – located in Lonuziyaaraihkolhu area of Male’ – comprises of two toilet stalls, three huts, three entrance canopies, renovation of a lifeguard tower, and construction and installation of a garden bridge.

AMIN Construction completed work on two toilet stalls.

ACC said that AMIN Construction was granted the contract for the project without paperwork, and without a transparent and competitive process, despite opportunity to select the contractor for the project through and open and competitive bidding process.

ACC found that the initial attempt itself was made to contract the project to AMIN Construction, by obtaining a quotation from the company alone, and requesting approval from Finance Ministry in accordance with single source procurement method as stated under Article 10.25 of Public Finance Regulation. Finance Ministry rejected the request and instructed Male’ City Council to seek approval from its Bid Committee, after which three quotations were submitted to the Bid Committee, but the contract was awarded to AMIN Construction without informing the Bid Committee, or members of the Male’ City Council.

ACC found that neither the Bid Committee nor Male’ City Council selected a contractor for the project, that only the Male’ City Council or Shifa – as the head of Male’ City Council has the authority to approve construction work on the project, and that it had been Shifa who had provided approval.

ACC also noted that Shifa made no attempt to halt the work despite having the authority to do so.

Additional key findings:

  • Project contracted to AMIN Construction without an agreement, making specifics of the work unclear.
  • Shifa sent total three memos to the Bid Committee requesting the selection of a contractor, one of which was sent on October 21, 2019, after construction work had already begun.
  • A Sri Lankan company offered to finance the construction of the two toilet stalls under non-reinbursable financial aid, but did not recommend a specific contractor.
  • Shifa failed to disclose information regarding the aid to Finance Ministry, Male’ City Council members, Bid Committee members, and Male’ City Council’s Finance Section, as required under Public Finance Regulation.

The charge ACC has requested against Shifa is a Class 4 felony.

Shifa has lost support within the Male’ City Council, and had faced a vote of no-confidence in response to 39 allegations of misconduct back in August. Eight councilors voted in favor of taking a vote of no-confidence, and Shifa was given 10 days to respond to the allegations.

However, Local Government Authority (LGA) had intervened to stop the process on the day of the vote.