PGO drops corruption charge against sports minister

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

Criminal Court confirmed Wednesday that the corruption charge against Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof has been withdrawn.

Mahloof was charged with accepting a bribe under Article 3 (b) of the Anti-Corruption Act in November 2021, 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.

An official from the Criminal Court said the case was dismissed at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday.

PGO said it made the decision to dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence to prove the charge against him.

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 wentto 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 2021, after the ACC requested corruption charges against him with the Prosecutor General’s Office.  However, the President's Office lifted the suspension in October 2021.