Homeland Minister: USD 3.6 m to Indian developer untraceable

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusan speaks with the media at the press briefing held on Tuesday, March 05, 2024 -- (Sun Photo/ Mohamed Maavee)

Minister of Homeland Security and Technology, Ali Ihusan on Tuesday, March 05, 2024 has said USD 3.6 million contracted to an Indian company to develop 61 police stations across the Maldives, is currently untraceable.

The minister said the case of said missing money has been lodged with the Maldives Police Service.

At the ministry's press briefing on Tuesday, minister Ihusan said Indira Projects, the Indian company, expressed interest to develop the USD 41.18 million project in August 2019.

While the previous government accepted the contractor's bid, it conditioned 85% of the project will be financed through India's EXIM Bank. The remaining 15% will be financed by the Maldives government.

A project proposal was drawn out and a contract drafted after the government accepted Indira Projects' offer.

Records indicate in October 2022, Indira Projects formed and registered a joint-venture, titled ABL Indira Projects, in the Maldives.

Although the contractor never fulfilled its role of financing the project, Maldives government later had paid USD 3.6 million to the company.

Ihusan said that despite the paper trail, no physical works for any of the police stations had commenced. He added that in April 2023, Indira Projects informed the Maldives government about EXIM Bank's refusal to finance the project.

Despite communications that followed between the parties afterwards, the money was no longer traceable. In January 2024, Indira Projects had informed the current administration that its joint-venture was dissolved.

The minister further said the contractor had previously pledged a USD 5 million grant for the project, though no discussions followed on the matter afterwards.

"Till date, I have not been successful in establishing communication focal point or the company's location, nor the procedure to move forward with the project," Ihusan said.

Minister Ihusan highlighted the matter has been raised as a concern by several local islands and their respective council authorities. He further noted that the President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu is already facing questions about the police stations during his recent visits to the atolls.