Minister of Youth, Sports, and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof has been cleared of bribery charges by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) due to insufficient evidence.
Mahloof was accused in November 2021 of accepting a bribe of USD33,000 related to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal. The alleged bribe was said to have been paid to ensure his support for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) bill proposed by the previous administration when he was a parliamentarian. Mahloof denied the charges and claimed the transaction was legitimate.
The Criminal Court reviewed the case and ruled that the evidence presented by the PGO was not strong enough to proceed with the trial. The PGO appealed the decision, and the High Court ordered the case to be reopened, citing crucial evidence not considered by the lower court. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated the case and found that Mahloof had arrived in the Maldives from Malaysia in time for the August 27, 2014, parliament sitting where he voted to pass the SEZ bill. The ACC also noted that Mahloof had submitted a payment receipt to prove the USD33,000 deposited into his account was part of a currency exchange transaction. However, the ACC stated that there was no conclusive evidence to support this claim.