Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) said yesterday that former President Mohamed Nasheed's government had ignored the counsel of the then Attorney General Abdulla Muizzu who advised that there was still time to withdraw from the agreement with Nexbis awarded with the Border Control System project.
Speaking at the meeting held with Finance Committee of the Parliament yesterday ACC’s Investigation Officer Mohamed Sodig revealed that on April 25, 2011, then AG Sawad had provided his legal counsel on the project to the cabinet.
“The AG had stressed that there is still time to come to a mutual conclusion to terminate the project with Nexbis and highlighted that it is not clear from the agreement if whether the deduction of USD2 is in accordance with government policy and that money deducted in the manner can be adjusted for inflation. The AG also noted that no company or project can be excluded from tax deduction under an agreement and that a result of doing so would mean Nexbis’s charges from the government will be increased, thus a point of important consideration on a policy level. It was further explained by the then AG that as per the agreement made with Nexbis the State is liable for compensation payments in the event it seeks a termination of the agreement thus a more sensible approach would be to seek a mutually approved termination. Thus it was determined by the AG then that if the State was to seek a termination through a court, the compensation it would be held liable for is too big a price to pay, thus reaching a mutual approved termination through dialogue between both parties would be the most sensible course of action,” Sodig explained.
ACC revealed that Nexbis had not made any major capital investments into the project when Muizzu had provided his legal counsel regarding the agreement to the cabinet, which Muizzu had stressed on at the time as well.
However, the cabinet had on May 17, 2011 decided, after reflecting on the AG’s legal counsel to go along with the project despite the difficulties the State may have to bear by awarding the project to Nexbis. Following the decision, the ACC had again due to strains in pursuing the project requested for a recommendation from the Department of Immigration and the Ministry of Home Affairs following which again the cabinet decided on October 18, 2011 to continue the project.
“So the cabinet on two different occasions had decided to continue the project. That is on May 17, 2011 and October 18, 2011,” Sodig pointed out.
ACC stated that while the cabinet had decided to continue the project on two different occasions the commission had pressed for the project to be brought to a halt as certain factors of the project pointed towards corruption.
Following the presentation made yesterday at the meeting with the parliament’s Finance Committee, ACC’s President Hassan Luthfee said that despite continuous efforts by the commission to halt the project due to alleged corruption, the commission did not receive any cooperation from any government and that the project has now been completed.
Sodig explained that Nexbis does not have any permit to conduct business in the Maldives and explained that Article 94 of the Company Act stipulates any body or organization conducting a business in the Maldives must register itself as a company here as well.
Luthfee said that awarding the development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) to Indian Infrastructure Company GMR and awarding the Border Control System (BCS) Project to Malaysian Company Nexbis had happened “in almost the same manner”.