Hearings in bribery case against Sports Minister to begin next week

Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Hayyan)

Criminal Court is scheduled to hear the case against Sport Minister Ahmed Mahloof for taking a bribe next week. 

The first hearing in the case is scheduled to begin at 11:00 am on Wednesday, January 19. 

Mahloof, who was charged with bribery in November last year, continues to hold office as Sports Minister – a move which has sparked criticism against President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration, which claims to have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards corruption. 

President’s Office has made no official comment regarding its decision not to take any action against Mahloof. 

Mahloof 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.   

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 last year, after the ACC requested corruption charges against him with the Prosecutor General’s Office.  However, the President's Office lifted the suspension four months later, in October.