Prosecutor Genera Hussain Shameem states that the chatlogs leaked by Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof, alleging personal bias in prosecuting him for bribery, prove nothing.
Mahloof had leaked the chatlogs of a conversation between Shameem and Sports Minister’s Personal Assistant Azmoon Ahmed on Wednesday evening, shortly after the Prosecutor General’s Office announced Mahloof had been charged with taking a USD 35,000 bribe back in 2014.
Shameem told Sun on Thursday evening that Mahloof was charged in accordance with standard protocol.
“[Charges are pressed] after necessary requirements are met, after the requirements I have written are met. So, he was charged in this manner, after requirements were met. This does not involve anything personal,” he said.
When asked about the chatlogs, Shameem said he doesn’t see anything personal on the chatlogs.
“I don’t believe there’s anything personal that can be seen or proven from it. I don’t have anything of that sort,” he said.
Shameem, after stating he did not have any personal bias in the case, and declined to make any further comment.
Posting the chatlogs on his Facebook account, Mahloof alleged that the decision to prosecute him for bribery was personal, and that the chatlogs proved it.
In the chatlogs, Azmoon asks Shameem when Mahloof’s case would be closed, and invites him to the national stadium to watch a football match.
Shameem responds that the Sports Ministry was full of suspects, and asks how he could be expected to attend a match.
Azmoon responds that it has been more than 110 days since the Prosecutor General’s Office had been sitting on a decision regarding the case.
Shameem responds that it’s what happens when one is unnecessarily “puffed up”.
“Even if its 900 days. This is what happens when one is unnecessarily puffed up. Police also no sympathy now,” he said.
Mahloof was charged based on the findings of an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) graft scandal.
ACC 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 on August 27, 2014.
ACC found that on September 1, 2014, a USD 33,000 cheque was deposited to Mahloof’s bank account by SOF Private Limited – the company accused of laundering the stolen funds. The corruption watchdog 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 to prove otherwise.
However, Mahloof continued to maintain his innocence and described the case against him as a political conspiracy to remove him from office.
He expressed confidence he would win if the case when to court, and said the prosecutors would “only embarrass themselves.”
Mahloof had been suspended back in 2019, when ACC’s report on the MMPRC scandal was first publicized. However, he was cleared two months later, following an investigation by the President’s Office.
Mahloof was placed under suspension against in June this year, after the ACC requested corruption charges against him with the Prosecutor General’s Office. However, the President's Office lifted the suspension in October.