ACC requests charges against Minister Ahmed Mahloof over MMPRC scandal

Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Ahmed Mahloof. (File Photo/Sun)

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has requested the Prosecutor General's Office to bring charges against Minister for Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof in relation to the MMPRC scandal. 

The ACC issued a statement regarding the request, which read that an investigation had shown that Mahloof, who was then serving as a parliamentarian, received USD 33,000 to vote for the Special Economic Zone bill and to remain at the leadership of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The investigation showed that Ahmed Mahloof from G. Halfsea, traveled to the Maldives from Malaysia on August 24, 2014, to vote specifically for the economic zone bill and that his vote was for the government-backed bill. The investigation also showed that Mahloof had received USD 33,000 through a SOF company cheque. 

ACC also said that Mahloof had met with former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who is believed to be the orchestrator behind the MMPRC scandal, after the vote for the SEZ bill. When connected with the text message exchange between Adeeb and Mahloof, as well as the dates for the deposit of the cheques, there was sufficient reason to believe that the cheques were a bribe by Adeeb to Mahloof. 

The ACC statement also read that Mahloof had presented a slip under the name of the SOF company stating "Payment Received" to the investigation, to show that the USD 33,000 cheque was for foreign currency exchange purposes. However, the ACC investigation did not find any evidence showing that the payment received was from foreign currency exchange transactions. 

The ACC investigation also read that witness testimony, evidence received from the investigations, showed that the payment was a bribe by Ahmed Adeeb to Ahmed Mahloof. The ACC said that it had requested charges against Ahmed Mahloof under Article 2 (A) of the Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption Act. 

The ACC statement also said that the investigation had found attempts by Mahloof to show that the USD 33,000 transaction was for foreign currency exchange purposes with the payment received slip, as well as a letter by Mahloof stating that the USD 33,000 had been exchanged and handed over to SOF as hard cash, as well as statements provided by Mahloof was for the purpose of misleading the investigation. 

So, the ACC requested charges against Mahloof under Article 552 (A) and (B) of the Penal Code.

The ACC also requested charges against an individual named as Ali Mubeen from G. Halfsea, which is the same address as Mahloof. The ACC said that Mubeen had attempted to mislead the ACC investigation by providing false statements purportedly showing that the transaction of USD 33,000 was a legitimate transaction, and presenting documents under the name of the SOF company showing that the transaction was for foreign currency exchange purposes. Charges are requested under Article 521 (A) and (B) of the Penal Code against Mubeen. 

Mahloof has previously been suspended from his post over corruption allegations. However, the ACC had cleared Mahloof of the allegations back then. Mahloof has previously said that he would resign the day he is charged over the scandal and denied the allegations of corruption against him.

President's Office spokesperson Mabrouq Azeez, shortly after the ACC statement confirmed that Mahloof had now been informed to step aside from his duties following the requested charges.