Male’، Maldives – The state, on Tuesday, filed six charges at the Criminal Court against former MP of Vilimale’ constituency Ahmed Nihan, over his involvement in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) embezzlement scandal.
In addition to the charges, the state is also seeking to collect the funds Nihan had earned through his participation in the graft. According to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office, Nihan was charged based on the investigative reports forwarded by Maldives Police Service, the Anti Corruption Commission and the Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery, conducting a large-scale joint investigation into the MMPRC case.
PG Office’s statement revealed that Nihan had taken bribes from former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, while he was filling the MP position as well as chairing the Parliament’s Public Finance Committee, to purposefully neglect certain duties, or complete them as was instructed by Adeeb. The statement further noted that Nihan’s financial reports 2014 to 2019 had failed to include the funds he had collected as bribes, although the investigation had uncovered the money he had accepted from Adeeb.
Nihan is charged with three counts of accepting bribes for receiving a cheque of MVR 150,000 from the SOF account, which was where funds siphoned from unlawfully leasing atolls and lagoons through MMPRC were pooled, accepting a Rolex watch to change his vote on approving a member for the Judicial Service Commission in 2014, and receiving MVR 650,000 from Adeeb as payment for following the ex-VP’s instructions as a parliamentarian.
The state also charged Nihan with two counts of asking for bribes, over requesting for the aforementioned Rolex and demanding a payment of MVR 650,000 for following Adeeb’s instructions. Moreover, he is charged with money laundering, for purchasing a flat from Platinum Residences in Hulhumale’ by adding more funds to the cheque of MVR 150,000 he had received from the SOF account.
Prior to filing Nihan’s case at court, authorities had withheld his passport to prevent him from leaving the country. The Presidential Commission on Asset Recovery has prioritised the investigation of 30 suspects involved in the MMPRC scandal, which caused a potential revenue loss of MVR 4 billion, marking the biggest embezzlement scandal in Maldivian history.
Reports released by investigative bodies in October 2019 list 267 individuals amongst those who benefitted from the graft. Commissioner of Police (CP) Mohamed Hameed stated that many powerful and influential individuals belonging to the current and past administrations are involved in the graft, but added that the investigation will not turn a blind eye to certain culprits.