Ex-VP Jihad pleads not guilty, State names Adeeb as witness

Former Maldivian Vice President Abdulla Jihad. (File Photo/Sun/Mohamed Afrah)

Former Vice President and Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge against him for corruption.

Jihad was charged with using the influence of his position to obtain or confer an undue advantage in a manner which precludes an advantage to state where a benefit exists following an investigation into a project to develop K. Fushidhiggarufalhu as a special tourism zone.

The charge against him comes for a decision he made to sign a joint venture agreement for the Fushidhiggaru project in 2013 when he was serving as Finance Minister during former President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration.

Jihad pled not guilty to the charge during his arraignment at the Criminal Court on Wednesday morning.

After he entered his plea, the State presented their evidence. The State named former Vice President and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor as a witness, and Cabinet documents and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) statements as evidence.

The judge has given 14 days for the two sides to present pre-trial motions before the case goes to trial.

The Cabinet made the decision to make a joint venture agreement with 50 percent government partnership to develop Fushidhiggarufalhu as a special tourism zone under the advisement of the National Planning Council on November 29, 2011. It was decided that the government will not put up any capital, and will receive land rent from the project.

Then-Finance Minister Jihad, signed an agreement with Prime Capital Maldives Limited to form a joint venture to develop Fushidhiggarufalhu as a special tourism zone on January 13, 2013 with 25 percent government share instead of a 50 percent government share as had been decided by the Cabinet, acting in clear contravention of the Cabinet’s decision for no credible reason.

In accordance with the National Planning Council and the Cabinet’s decision, the State would have earned USD 411,720,000 as land rent and USD 192,993,750 as prime location charge over a period of 50 years.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said Jihad’s actions precluded the State from USD 604,713,750 (MVR 9.32 billion) in land rent alone.