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#Maldives: #Canarygate Scandal: MRF 24 million scam involves ex-President Nasheed's senior administrators: Auditor-General

#Maldives: Four senior members of former President Nasheed's administration were culpable is a MRF 24 million scam, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim told the Parliamentary subcommittee on Finance yesterday. The individuals named included two high profile members of former President Nasheed's party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who had been given political posts when Nasheed came into power. They were Ahmed Assad, the younger brother of Nasheed's Housing Minister and close confidante Aslam and Abdulla Shahid (pic), one of the 11 involved in the November 3rd coup led by Nasheed's uncle Sikka Ahmed Ismail Maniku in 1988. Assad had filled the post of State Minister of Finance in Nasheed's government, while Abdulla Shahid had been State Minister of Defence.

The scam involved embezzlement of state funds amounting to MRF 24 million, paid from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury for falsified invoices for services claimed to have been rendered to the National Centre for Disaster Management (NDMC). The Audit Office investigation found that these services were never rendered, and that the invoice numbers given were numbers of invoices by other companies and not the company which had been paid.

The other three individuals involved werethe Director General on NDMC Mohamed Shahid, its Deputy Director General Ali Moosa Kaleyfaanu and Mohamed Ahmed, Financial Controller at the Ministry of Finance.

The Company which had been paid for false invoices was identified as ABC Company (Allocate Business Company), whose two shareholders were Najaah and Abdulla Anas of Beauty house of Addu City Maradhoo.

Senior Audi Office staff reported that there was a five year gap between the submitted invoices and the services that were claimed. Additionally, some invoices had been flagged by junior NDMC staff and Finance staff as already paid. However, no attention had been paid to these issues by the above named officials who had authorized the payments to Najah and Anas.

Abdullah Shahid (alias DB – Double Bass) is a convicted terrorist who was part of the Maldivian terrorist group led by Nasheed's uncle Sikka Ahmed Ismail Maniku. The group masterminded the 3 November 1988 failed coup attempt in which 19 innocent Maldivians were killed. Sikka’s coup was undertaken with the PLOTE faction of the LTTE. Shahid was homsexual Sikka’s drinking buddy and ‘close personal friend’. An officer of the Maldives armed forces at the time, Shahid provided details of the military strength, armoury and roster details which allowed PLOTE leader Uma Maheshwaram to plan the coup attempt. The Maldivian coup leader was Abdulla Luthufee, a homosexual associate of Sikka Ahmed's whose lifestyle and activities were funded by Sikka from an early age. Luthufee has been fugitive from the Maldivian Government since 2009. Luthufee led the failed attack, bringing about 100 PLOTE mercenaries by sea in what was Sikka's third bid to overthrow the legal government of the Maldives.

Abdulla Shahid was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the coup. Pardoned by President Gayoom, Shahid went to work in his family owned business. Sikka's nephew, Nasheed first appointed him Minister of State for Defence in 2008 as soon as he came to power. However, when a public outcry broke and hundreds of people marched in demonstration against Nasheed’s appointment of convicted terrorist and traitor as Defence State Minister, Nasheed transferred DB to his next position as Minister of State for Housing, Transport and Environment. He was then put in charge of the NDMC, where he apparently masterminded the Mrf 24 million embezzlement now being investigated by the Auditor General.

Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim reported that a further embezzlement case of MRf 18 million also involving the NDMC had come to light during his investigation. However, he did not release any details of the latter investigation.

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