After years, Maldives finally criminalizes illicit enrichment

September 8, 2020: President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. (Photo/President's Office)

After years, the Maldives has criminalized illicit enrichment and wealth as a criminal offense related to corruption.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, today, ratified the amendments to the Penal Code criminalizing illicit wealth as a major step to stop corruption.

Years have passed as a number of institutions and organizations as well as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have been calling for such a measure against corruption. 

A total of 50 MPs voted to pass the amendment in April. 

Under the amendment, the disproportionate enrichment of a state employee who is currently working or had worked as a state employee is a criminal offense if the earnings are disproportionate with the lifestyle established by the employee. Legal procedures to convict those charged with such crimes are also included in the amendment.

The law also criminalizes the failure to justify the source of income in accordance with the law, if the assets are owned by the individual, a family member, someone with a personal relationship, or through business connections as well.

It is a crime of second degree, according to the law if the individual obtaining illicit enrichment is the President of the nation, Parliamentarian, or a Court Justice. A maximum sentence of 15 years is included for the crime. 

The now ratified law also states that if the employee acts in a manner that inflicts losses to the state in a situation where the state could have earned, would also be classified as a third-degree crime. 

The bill for the amendments was submitted to the parliament by Fonadhoo MP Moosa Siraj. The ratification of the law means that the Prevention & Prohibition of Corruption Act of 2000 has now been repealed. 

Other than the bill, the President also today ratified the amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act which changes the interpretation of corruption to include any acts committed in order to commit an act of corruption as well. The amendment also states that any interpretation of the crime of corruption included in the Penal Code as well as any other law in the nation to be regarded as a valid interpretation of corruption.