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#Maldives: Over 55 million MRF state funds defrauded by Nasheed Govt: Mrf 11.8m to MDP Activist Shiuna

#Maldives: Parliament's Finance Committee told media last week that the Auditor General had reported over 55 million MRF state funds had been given by former President Mohamed Nasheed's government to various parties without receiving any services or goods in return for the payment. The three cases totalling over 55 million MRF involved high ranking officials of Nasheed's party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

One case involved Mrf 12.7 million paid by the Health Ministry to a company called F-Tech Solutions to supply medical supplies. F-Tech Solutions was owned by high ranking MDP officials, one of its Director's and Human Resources Officer being a Ms. Fathimath Shiuna (aka "Prepaid Shiuna), a leading MDP activist working closely with Nasheed. "Prepaid" Shiuna is reported to be Nasheed's personal secretary. Another F-Tech director, Riluwan Shareef, is also a leading member of the MDP.

'Prepaid' Shiuna also fronted a successful bid for a tourist resort under an initiative by the Nasheed Government called Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme (CSR). Another MDP leader rewarded through this scheme was Dhonbileiy Ahmed Haleem, former husband of Nasheed's cousin Hudha Ahmed (daughter of November 3 terrorist Sikka Ahmed Ismail Maniku).

An even closer example is the multimillion dollar contract given to his family company Renewable Energy Maldives to provide 6 islands with solar power, (see RN January 2012 report Renewable Energy Maldives: President Nasheed's gift for elder brother Naashid). The family company's CEO is Nasheed's elder brother Naashid, who until Renewable Energy was set up to take the STELCO contracts worked with Nasheed in their other family business Dhivehi Meysthiri. In addition to the STELCO project, Renewable Energy Maldives has landed other projects to supply solar panels and other renewable energy products to government agencies and companies. In Decemebr 2011, Nasheed's closest partner on his cabinet, his Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam announced that Naashid's renewable energy project would be implemented in 29 inhabited islands in the country.

In 11.7 million Mrf handout by the Nasheed Government to Shiuna's F-Tech, the Health Ministry had paid F-Tech the full value of the tender (Mrf 12.7 million) in 2010 without receiving any goods or services. F-Tech had later supplied goods totalling only 0.9 million Mrf, the goods for the balance 11.8 million Mrf still remaining unsupplied. F- Tech Solutions Pvt. Ltd doctored invoices and delivery notes and forged signatures to collect payment on goods that were never delivered. The Auditor General noted that no effort had been made by the Health Ministry to obtain the rest of the supplies or the excess payment up to the issuance of his report (March 2012). Nasheed's Health Minister was Mrs. Aminath Jameel, wife of Sikka Mohamed Ismail (younger brother of Sikka Ahmed Ismail, a convicted terrorist who masterminded the November 3rd 1988 massacre in Maldives). Sikka Ahmed Ismail is married to Zameera, younger sister of Nasheed's father Kerafa Abdul Sattar.

The Auditor General's Report revealed that the tender had been awarded to F-Tech after cancelling one tender in which F-Tech had not bid and then cancelling all competing bids in the tender in which F-Tech did bid. The cancelled bids included those by established local suppliers of medical supplies, State Trading Organization (STO), ADK and MedEquip Maldives, and an Indian supplier KeiMed. Local bids were illegally cancelled citing similarity of bid price, while KeiMed was cancelled citing that it had not provided the cost for 4 types of medicines in the tender list. However, F-Tech had also not provided the cost nor the brand for several items on the tender list, the Auditor General revealed, yet its bid had not been cancelled.

F-Tech had been awarded the contract in September 2010, against the advice of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The ACC had raised concerns over F-Tech's lack of necessary permits and experience, one of the conditions of the tender.

The Audit report also noted that full payment had been made to F-Tech against all Government financial regulations.It reported that, in one invoice F-Tech had charged and been paid in full an amount of Mrf 2.3 million. It had later supplied only MRf 0.55 million worth supplies against this invoice. The balance had never been supplied nor paid back.

The two other cases reported by the Parliament's Finance Committee last Thursday involved Nasheed's State Minister for Defence Abdulla Shahid, another convicted terrorist involved in the November 3, 1988 massacre.

The second high profile MDP leader involved in these cases was Ahmed Assad, the younger brother of Nasheed's nominee for MDP President, his Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam. Assad was Nasheed's first nominee for the Finance Minister's portfolio but was rejected by Parliament, upon which Nasheed installed him as State Minister for Finance and Treasury. Later, Nasheed installed Assad as Financial Controller, thus paving the way for the fraud payments to be made to MDP leaders and activists. Assad's phenomenal rise to the Finance Ministry top posts came from a stint as the Budget Officer in the Education Ministry during the previous Government.

One 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 second scam also involved the NDMC, where it had made payments of over Mrf 18 million to a company for a falsified invoice which the courts had ruled did not need to paid. The company involved was Moreway Constructions, whose owners were MDP financiers.

Assad was also involved in F-Tech scam where he authorized the full-payment to F-Tech. The Audit report states that Assad as the State Minister of Finance opened a Local Letter of Credit facility (LC) at the State Bank of India (SBI) for the full contract amount with F-Tech Solutions as the beneficiary. The Auditor General said this act contravened the Maldives Finance Act which states only 15 percent of total contract value can be paid out in advance. In a second step, Assad then authorized Finance Ministry staff to sign delivery notes for the goods, even though these should be signed by Health Ministry officials since the contract was between F-Tech and Health Ministry.These goods for which Assad made the payments were never delivered, said the report.

The SBI had, at the time, brought to the Finance Ministry's notice that there were discrepancies between F-Tech invoices and delivery notes. Nine of the 21 invoices were issued a month before the date printed on delivery notes, the report said. These were ignored by the Finance Ministry, with a Deputy Director General at the Finance Ministry, Ali Arif, another MDP member, collaborating with Assad to sign releases for the payments.

Even more damning evidence presented by the Audit Report include documents where the Health Ministry had then gone on to use fresh funds to procure by itself the goods for which F-Tech had been paid. Neither the Finance Ministry nor the Health Ministry had collected the excess payment from F-Tech.

The Audit Office is reportedly investigating several cases of illegal payments to MDP Interim Chair Reeko Moosa Maniku for services that were never rendered. It is also reportedly investigating corruption involved in the case of Mega Maldives established under the name of Nasheed's closest aide MP Mariya Didi's son and her nephew Ahmed Mifzal.

In the MP Reeko Moosa Maniku case, his company Heavy Load Maldives, was awarded a dredging contract by Thilafushi Corporation in a directly negotiated contract.  Of the three parties that had given expressions of interest and contract prices, the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) submitted the lowest price. However, MDP leader Reeko Moosa Maniku was awarded the contract, citing that his estimated completion time was faster that MTCC's. Moosa Maniku was reportedly paid more than the legal advance payment. The contract remains uncompleted. The matter is still being investigated by the ACC.

In the case of Mega Maldives, a foreign investment proposal to invest in a charter flight business from China to Maldives made by an independent investor. At the the time, Nasheed's Foreign Investment Advisor was Mifzal Ahmed, MP Mariya Didi's nephew. Mifzal's father Ahmed Latheef was also the Ambassador to China. Mifzal and his father used their position and influence to sign up a joint venture partnership privately with the investor, to create Mega Maldives. The required permits were hastily given by the Nasheed Government. Mifzal's uncle is Hassan Latheef, Nasheed's former Youth Minister and now his lawyer. Mariya Didi's son is also a senior executive in Mega Maldives, reportedly the third shareholder. Today, Mifzal lives in luxury in the UK as does his mother and aunt, Nasheed's High Commissioner to the UK, Farahanaaz Faisal. The Mega Maldives case is also under investigation in the ACC.

An further dimension is added to the large scale corruption by Nasheed and his party leaders by the Canarygate Scandal where Nasheed's Israeli connection was revealed to be Ismail Saadiq, of the FPID and 7/11 corruption scandals in the 1990s. Nasheed had used the state owned enterprise STO to award Ismail Saadiq and Nasheed's ex-Chief of Staff, Ahmed Mausoom an oil deal to supply STO Maldives with Israeli oil. The two were engaged in setting up the deal when Nasheed resigned on February 7th. Mausoom first controlled all financial affairs in the Nasheed regime as Finance Secretary at the President's Office, ascending to the post of Chief of Staff in 2011, a Cabinet level rank in the Nasheed administration. The Chief of Staff's job was to manage all funds, some of which were leveraged by Saadiq through various deals with foreign companies and governments.
The litany of corruption carried out by MDP leaders being reported by the Audit Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission continues. Most Audit and ACC reports recommend legal action against the individuals involved in defrauding and embezzling from the State. However, few cases have been brought before the courts.

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