Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof has been charged with taking a bribe.
Prosecutor General’s Office spokesperson, Public Prosecutor Ahmed Shafeeu confirmed to Sun on Thursday that Mahloof has been charged with accepting a bribe under Article 3 (b) of the Anti-Corruption Act, with reference to Article 3 (a).
He was charged based on the findings of an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) graft scandal.
ACC found that in 2014, then-parliamentarian Mahloof received USD 33,000 in funds stolen from MMPRC as a bribe from then-Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor to remain a member of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and vote for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill on August 27, 2014.
ACC found that on September 1, 2014, a USD 33,000 cheque was deposited to Mahloof’s bank account by SOF Private Limited – the company accused of laundering the stolen funds. The corruption watchdog said that though Mahloof submitted a ‘Payment Received’ slip in the name of SOF as evidence it had been a legitimate business transaction to procure US dollars, the commission had witnesses and other evidence to prove otherwise.
However, Mahloof continued to maintain his innocence and described the case against him as a political conspiracy to remove him from office.
He expressed confidence he would win if the case when to court, and said the prosecutors would “only embarrass themselves.”
Mahloof had been suspended back in 2019, when ACC’s report on the MMPRC scandal was first publicized. However, he was cleared two months later, following an investigation by the President’s Office.
Mahloof was placed under suspension against in June this year, after the ACC requested corruption charges against him with the Prosecutor General’s Office. However, the President's Office lifted the suspension in October.