Malé, Maldives – The Prosecutor General’s Office (PG) has decided to withdraw the corruption charges against Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof, who allegedly benefited from the MMPRC scam.
According to the investigation carried out by Maldives Police Service, Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery and Anti Corruption Commission over the MMPRC corruption, Mahloof had taken a bribe of USD 33,000 to vote for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill and also to remain in Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
In addition to this, the joint investigation also showed that the investigation was able to link the text messages exchanged between Mahloof and Former Vice President of Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb (Bro) and the money deposited by SOF cheque of USD 33,000 to Mahloof to the vote taken in parliament as a bribe.
Mahloof, in his defence, says that he was a PPM Council member at the time of the vote of SEZ bill and voted as per the three-line whip set out for the vote by the party.
It was also revealed that Mahloof had given forged documents to Anti-Corruption Commission in an attempt to show that he had done a legitimate transaction to purchase dollars from SOF.
On the contrary, Mahloof accused that some names from the list had been removed due to political influence before being published and that he was being treated unfairly in the investigation.
It is learned that the charges were withdrawn because it was not considered that the money was received as a bribe. However, the prosecutor’s office has not yet commented on the matter.
The money received was Mahloof’s own money and the use of it could not be linked to an act of bribery, Mahloof said in his defence. He was previously suspended from his post after the charges were sent by the prosecutor’s office for prosecution. But the suspension was later lifted on the grounds of delay in prosecution.
The Criminal Court initially ruled that there was no evidence to consider the money as a bribe and dismissed the case. The Criminal Court is resuming the trial after the High Court ruled that the case was wrongly dismissed and ordered a retrial.
However, many hearings in the case have been canceled at the request of the prosecution and for various reasons. Most recent hearings were cancelled when Mahloof took part in official trips with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Minister Mahloof has accused the PGO of malicious prosecution and has threatened to strip the government naked if prosecuted.