Fonadhoo MP Moosa Siraj has called for the dismissal of incumbent members of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), accusing the local corruption watchdog of failure to investigate big corruption cases.
Siraj, a lawmaker from the main ruling party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), issued the call during a parliamentary debate on a bill to revise the Anti-Corruption Commission Act on Monday.
Speaking during the debate, Siraj accused ACC of failure to prioritize the investigation of big corruption cases, and choosing instead to investigate smaller cases.
He said that ACC was spending MVR 30,000 for travel to investigate a small MVR 2,000 embezzlement case at an island.
“That [smaller cases] too, must be investigated. But what I see is, I don’t see ACC having investigated any of the major corruption cases that took place during the last [presidential] term. No charges have been filed either,” he said.
Siraj said ACC lacks the capacity to prioritize cases based on the seriousness of the offense, under an effective system.
He questioned the competency of the members appointed to ACC by the current administration.
“It may be that the problem lies with the members we appointed to ACC, that they are incompetent. If that’s true, I call for the dismissal of the members we appointed, and handing this over to competent people,” he said.
Siraj said that the biggest corruption during the previous administration had been the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) embezzlement and money laundering case, but that the investigation into the case remains stalled.
He said it was a matter of great concern.
Siraj spoke of his predecessor, former Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, the leader of People’s National Congress (PNC).
He said that Abdul Raheem had been accused of committing multiple acts of corruption during the previous administration, including that he unjustly enriched himself and procured luxury apartments and other assets – but that ACC found no wrongdoing.
He also expressed frustration that ACC found no wrongdoing that former Chief of Defense, Major General Ahmed Shiyam had his father accommodated at a Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) property at state expense.
Siraj said that recovering embezzled public funds and holding those responsible accountable for the crimes was the current administration’s top electoral pledge, and but that he does not see much being done in the way of fulfilling the pledge. He said that the obstacle to fulfilling the pledge lies in the failure of institutions such as the ACC.
Siraj said that now was an opportune time to investigate whether ACC has effective systems in place, investigate whether ACC members are fulfilling their responsibilities, dismiss them if they are found to be failing to fulfill their responsibilities, and replace them with more competent members.
“Legislature can be revised, but if they are competent, we will see the necessary change the Constitution envisions,” he said.
ACC has been hit with criticism by additional MDP lawmakers in the past.