The Prosecutor General’s Office (PG) has requested the Criminal Court to hold trials for the bribery case against Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof in September.
Although the hearings for this case were scheduled for Sunday, August 28, it was cancelled at the request of the PG Office.
Notably, Minister Mahloof is currently accompanying President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and a high-level government delegation on a tour of Meemu Atoll.
Speaking with Sun, the Public Prosecutor and Media Official at PG Office Ahmed Shafeeu said that the request to cancel hearings was due to an administrative issue.
He further said that they have now requested to schedule the hearings after September 10.
Although the case was previously kicked out by the Criminal Court citing that the prosecution has not submitted substantial evidence to prove charges, High Court reversed this, stating that the decision was made wrongfully.
In 2021, the PG Office charged Mahloof with taking a bribe, 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 Adheeb to remain a member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and vote for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill on August 27, 2014.
Additionally, ACC’s findings stated that the 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.
Minister Mahloof pled guilty and maintained his innocence throughout the process. He described that case against him as a political conspiracy to remove him from office.
Due to the case, Mahloof was 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.
He was placed under suspension again in June 2021, after the ACC requested corruption charges against him with the Prosecutor General’s Office. However, the President's Office lifted the suspension in October.