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Maldives: Audit Office reports rampant corruption under Mahmood Raazee in the Economic Ministry

Male', Maldives.
The Auditor General's report on the financial statements of the Economic Ministry for the year 2010 reports corruption and malpractice on a massive scale within the Ministry. However, President Nasheed has not ordered the police or his Presidential Commission to investigate the matter. The Economic Ministry is headed by one of Nasheed's closest advisors, Mahmood Raazee, a shareholder of the powerful Lintel Maldives. All shareholders of Lintel Maldives hold key positions in the Nasheed administration.

As a mere sampler of the high level of malpractice and corruption in the Ministry, the Audit report states that the Economic Ministry had consistently procured assets and given out contracts in a manner which violated the Government's financial regulations.

A contract worth Mrf 595,930 had been awarded to MS Carpentry for finishing works in the Economic Ministry's new building, without a scope of works for the contract, resulting in an additional payment of MRf 179,629 to MS Carpentry.

The Ministry had also made bulk cash payments worth Mrf. 8.2 million to five parties calling it "compensation" for losses due to the government ban on export of shark by products. These funds had not been in the budget approved by the People's Majlis (Parliament), the report noted. How the five parties were selected and how their "compensation" was assessed is not stated.

In addition, the Audit team could not find several assets which were recorded as purchased for the Ministry. This included a laptop which the Audit team was informed by Ministry officials had been lost, but the Ministry had not reported this loss to any party.

The Audit Office has rejected the Economic Ministry's financial statements on the basis of malpractice and because the Ministry had not made the mandatory disclosures nor provided substantiating documents for its financial statements.

The Audit report further noted that there were major discrepancies amounting to millions of rupees between the Ministry's accounts and the general accounts of the Ministry kept by the Finance Ministry.

From the day of his swearing in as President, Nasheed has been harassing and persecuting his political opponents, under the guise of investigating charges of corruption. He first formed a Presidential Commission which he staffed with his close compatriots such as AAA Company shareholder Ali Shiyam, for dragging in various political opponents to give testimony before the commission.

The reports used to persecute political opponents were the fabricated reports by failed ex-Auditor general Maakun Naeem. Maakun Naeem was finally thrown out through a no-confidence vote against him due to corruption and use of state funds for private activities during his term as Auditor General.

The Maldives Police Service and the Prosecutor General's Office play a major supporting role in Nasheed's politically motivated program. However, Audit reports on government agencies during his presidency such this damning report on Minister Raazee and the Economic Ministry fall on deaf ears.

Mahmood Raazee is facing a vote of no confidence against him when the Parliament reconvenes in early March this year. The vote of no confidence was submitted to Parliament during the session that just ended. However, it could not be scheduled prior to the end of the term given the mandatory period of preparation for Minister Raazee.

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