Maldives: Corruption scandal led to dismissal of two ministers

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih dismissed two government ministers after a $90 million corruption scandal came to the spotlight on Thursday. An official investigation carried out by the Anti-Corruption Commission, examined the transparency conditions behind the lease of several tropical islands for the development of new hotel resorts.

The two dismissed ministers are the latest addition to the bursting out of a scandal which has already associated several representatives of the Maldives political life and the business community with money laundering activities. The two dismissed ministers were Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof and State Minister for Infrastructure Akram Kamaludeen. Both were accused of receiving financial gifts from SOF Private Limited, a Maldivian conglomerate which utilised cash trances to assume resort construction projects across the 1.192 islands which constitute the Maldives Archipelago. The two ministers denied charges of receiving $90 million in their bank accounts. Company representatives did not issue a formal statement on the case.

Maldives are expected to hold a parliamentary election in 6 April.  The problem of corruption has been one of the most heated topics in local political life. President Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party so far does not possess a parliamentary majority, even though he has utilised the issue of corruption in his electoral campaign. The problem of corruption centres on the covert role of Chinese companies behind undertaking construction projects in the islands.

The official investigation has already indicted former President Abdulla Yameen for receiving $1 million unaccounted donations. The former President lost presidential elections last September on corruption charges. President Solih was elected under the promise to examine background ties of Chinese companies with construction projects in the Islands and open tender deals for new projects to Indian counterparts.

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