Youth Minister Mahloof charged with bribery

The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has charged Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof with bribery in relation to the corruption scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

The PGO pressed charges against Mahloof after reviewing the charges submitted by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) following its investigation. The charge sheet states Mahloof had received a bribe of USD 33,000 from the funds embezzled through MMPRC to vote in favour of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) bill proposed by the then-administration, when he was a member of the parliament. ACC stated Mahloof had arrived in the Maldives from Malaysia just in time for the parliament sitting held on August 27, 2014, where he voted to pass the SEZ bill.

Furthermore, ACC stated the investigation had revealed a cheque for USD 33,000 had been deposited to Mahloof’s account by SOF Private Limited, which had acted as the main distributor of the embezzled funds. ACC noted the text messages exchanged between Mahloof and then-Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, as well as the date when the cheque was deposited confirms the funds received by Mahloof were bribes.

ACC further noted Mahloof had submitted a payment receipt to prove that the USD 33,000 deposited by SOF to his account was part of a currency exchange transaction. However, ACC said there is no solid evidence to prove that the funds were transferred for currency exchange.

Following the review of the charges submitted by ACC, the PGO is charging Mahloof under Article 2(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act, on counts of bribery. The PGO stated the charges against Mahloof have been submitted to the Criminal Court of the Maldives.

The charges against Mahloof were forwarded by ACC to the PGO in June, following which Mahloof was suspended from his duties as the youth minister. However, the suspension was revoked last month.