Mahloof: Lack of evidence to press charges against me now evident more than ever

Youth Minister AHmed Mahloof. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof has stated that the lack of evidence by authorities to press charges against him in connection to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations (MMPRC) money laundering scandal has now become more evident than ever.

The statement comes after Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem has said that the delays in charging Minister Mahloof is attributed to the lack of sufficient evidence – noting that they would only decide on pressing charges after obtaining all the evidence.

“Even if it takes 100 days – a decision on that case will be made after obtaining all of the evidence,” Shameem had said.

Speaking to Sun last night, Mahloof noted that he is stunned by PG Shameem’s statement that charges would be pressed after obtaining evidence. In this regard, he explained this was against the normal procedure – whereas the normal procedure would be to decide on pressing charges if there is sufficient evidence to take it to court, and not press charges if there is not enough evidence.

“The statements made at the press conference by the PG is a clear indication that they do not sufficient evidence to press charges against me. But what surprised me the most is when PG Shameem had said they would be pressing charges against me after they obtain all the evidence. This is not how the procedure was before. If there is sufficient evidence, charges will be pressed. If there is not, charges would not be pressed. So making such a statement makes it very clear that they do not have sufficient evidence to press charges against me,” he had said.

Meanwhile, the Police have also confirmed that no additional evidence was being sought against Mahloof at the moment.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) requested the PGO for charges against Mahloof in connection to the MMPRC case on June 9.

ACC said their investigation found that in 2014, then-parliamentarian Mahloof received USD 33,000 in funds stolen from MMPRC as a bribe from then-Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor to remain a member of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and vote for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill.

ACC said Mahloof arrived at the Parliament on August 27, 2014, after traveling from Malaysia, for the sole purpose of voting for the SEZ Bill.

However, Mahloof rejected the allegation, stating that he voted in accordance with the three-line whip issued by PPM.

ACC found a USD 33,000 cheque was deposited to Mahloof’s bank account by SOF Private Limited – the company accused of laundering the stolen funds.

ACC said that though Mahloof submitted a ‘Payment Received’ slip in the name of SOF as evidence it had been a legitimate business transaction to procure US dollars, the commission had witnesses and other evidence as proof it had not been a legitimate business transaction.

However, Mahloof said the PGO does not have any evidence to make the charges stick in court.

Mahloof has also previously shared his concerns over the investigation to the public, alleging that PGO is handling his case differently than other MMPRC cases.