Embezzlement through the state-run Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) cost the state at least USD 65 million, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says.
The commission released its report on an investigation into allegations of large-scale embezzlement through the MMPRC, in 2015.
The allegations claim that government officials had embezzled over a billion dollars through corrupt island and lagoon deals, which the MMPRC was authorised to receive by President Abdulla Yameen.
The ACC launched this investigation, the biggest in their history, in October of 2015; the commission has interviewed 118 people, reviewed over 5,000 documents, and spent over 700 hours analysing bank statements of 163 people.
The report says that ACC investigated the case of how 57 islands were leased, which together cost USD 77 million; the report says only USD 12 million had been deposited at the MMPRC.
The report also found that while 12 million had entered the company, a large sum of this had then been funnelled out into accounts held by private businesses.
ACC found that MMPRC’s former director Abdulla Ziyath, who has been charged and detained, had used the Scores of Flair as a means to funnel out funds. While this is already information the ACC revealed before, the extent of it is only now understood.
The report claims staff at the Bank of Maldives to have been complicit as well, who had allowed a total of USD 22.1 million due to be deposited in an account held by the ACC, to be deposited instead into an account held by the company.
ACC notes that the bank employees had referred to a cheque signed by managing director Ziyath, and the commission is investigating the matter separately.
The investigation also found that the islands were sold at inflated acquisition costs, with MMPRC having charged an acquisition fee of MVR 3 million for Fushidhiggaru island in Alif Dhaal atoll, all of which was funnelled out of the company.
Ziyath had also falsified receipts which show MMPRC to have received a number of payments, none of which entered their accounts.