President: Although not at desirable speed, Asset Recovery Commission did competent work

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih speaks to press on June 8, 2022. (Photo/President's Office)

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Wendesday, has stated that the Asset Recovery Commission carried out competent work although it might not have been at a desirable speed.

Answering a question posed by Sun at the press conference held at the President’s Office on Wednesday evening – President Solih stated that he accepts that the Asset Recovery Commission had not discharged its duties at a desirable speed.

Nevertheless, he stressed that the Commission had carried out competent work; highlighting some of their successes in this trajectory.

“As a first thing – ensuring whether islands were sold in accordance with the law, and whether a fair price was received (for the islands); who was in charge of this work; who benefited from this. Hard work was carried out in order to confirm these matters,” he had said.

President Solih also stressed that there were many reasons slowing down the pace of the Commission’s work including the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih speaks to press on June 8, 2022. (Photo/President's Office)

“Apart from this, another issue faced was the leak of information pertaining to the works of these two commissions (Asset Recovery Commission and Commission of Deaths and Disappearances) which should not have been disclosed,” he added.

As a result – President Solih detailed that additional efforts had to be made to ensure the safety of witnesses – whereas many who had initially volunteered to give statements for the investigation had backed down.

Laying out some of the work done by the Asset Recovery Commission – President Solih stated that they had, at the request of Auditor General’s Office, conducted an assessment of whether a fair price was received for sale of islands that involved corruption. He added that the formulated assessment has now been handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“What ACC will do next is initiate the process to recover monies if it had not been received accordingly,” he had said.

President Solih further detailed the formulation of a list by the Commission, containing individuals suspected to have unduly benefited from the transactions – underscoring what is next is the probe of those named on the list.

The list referred to by President Solih has previously been leaked to the public. Following this, the parliament had removed the names of some individuals from the leaked list – and publicized a new one.

Speaking further on the works of the Asset Recovery Commission – President Solih highlighted from the cases investigated by the Commission, eight of them are presently in trial stage. Moreover, the Committee has also advised eight institutions on increasing efficiency.

State Asset Recovery Commission members meeting with president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. (Photo/President's Office)

Information released to Sun by the President’s Office in response to a request under the Right to Information Act shows that Asset Recovery Commission’s expenditure since inception up till it was dissolved amounted to MVR 10.5 million. Out of this, MVR 5.8 million was spent as allowances for the Commission’s members whilst over 3.7 million was spent on salaries and allowances of the Commission’s employees.

Asset Recovery Commission was established by President Solih through a presidential decree on November 2018 to investigate and recover billions stolen from the state by means of corruption during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s administration. The Commission was dissolved by the President in this year’s March.

The Commission was dissolved approximately a week after President Solih had sent names to the parliament for consideration as new members to ACC. During yesterday’s press conference, President Solih said that the Commission was established back then over lack of trust in institutions existing at that time.