Maldives criminalizes illicit enrichment

President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih | photo: The President's Office

Malé, Maldives – The President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has ratified the fourth amendment to the Penal Code of Maldives (Act no: 9/2014) criminalizing illicit enrichment.

The new amendment establishes illicit enrichment by a public official, which can be defined as a significant increase in the assets of a public official that he or she cannot reasonably explain in relation to his or her lawful income, as a criminal offence that is punishable by a prison sentence.

The new amendment to the Penal Code also introduces other offences such as, acquiring wealth through illegitimate means, misusing state funds or assets, acting in a manner which gives a direct disadvantage to the state and asserting undue influence on businesses.

When the offence is committed by high ranking public officials such as president, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians and judges, it is classified as a class 2 felony punishable by 6-15 years in prison.

The new amendment criminalises offering bribes and details the provisions whereby a person may be held liable for this offence. As per the amendment, offering bribes is classified as a class three felony.

Details for prosecution under these offences are also included in the amendment. 

Once the new amendment to the Penal Code are gazetted, the Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption Act (Act no: 2/2000) will be nullified. 

Parliament of the Maldives has passed the amendment bill to the Penal Code, listing illicit enrichment as a criminal offence with a prison sentence on 19 April 2021 with 50 votes.

The amendment to the Penal Code was sponsored by MP Moosa Siraj on behalf of the government.