Auditor General wants to prosecute people involved in MTDC fraud

Tuesday, 23 September 2008 10:31

Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem has recommended liquidating public tourism company Maldives Tourism Development Corporation MTDC and initiate criminal prosecution against those involved in illicit trading of its shares. Auditor General has opined in his report that it does not appear possible to salvage the company by merely selling the shares of major share holders and involving these two parties and the company as a whole in fraudulent trading of shares and other irregularities will have serious repercussions to the stock market. He was of the view that the company must be liquidated.

According to a report submitted by the Auditor General to the People's Majlis and issued on the website of that of Auditor General's office, Villa Group and Champa has been involved in illicit trading of shares. Villa group of companies were owned by former finance minister and presidential candidate of Jumhoory Party Gasim Ibrahim, while Champa Brothers is owned by Champa Ahmed Moosa. Ahmed Moosa is a brother of the Chairman of MTDC Hussain Afeef.

The 16 page report said the public company formed in April 2006 to reap the benefits of tourism to the general people, was in the hands of two sources, Villa and Champa acquiring very large percent of the shares of the company. It said Villa controls 27% and Champa 5% of the 1,145,210 shares sold to the general public.

The report discloses Villa has bought Mrf 19.8 million worth of shares in the name of 1986 persons while general rule was to sell 100 shares each share holder. The report further pointed these shares were transferred to persons of families representing Villa in a discreet manner. Regarding the shares bought by Champa, the report said they have paid for these shares in a smarter way that is they have not paid by cheque.

The report also blamed the government for the inappropriate manner in which government has made payments for its 1.5 million shares. Government has first paid a total of Mrf 51.3 million, that is Mrf 50 million for 500,000 shares and a sum of Mrf 1,310,700 received for rent of Herathera Resort. It has been arranged to pay the balance from the 10 year rent of Herethere resort. Auditor General criticized the government for not complying with corporate rules in making payment for its shares.

The report was discussed by the Finance Committee of the People's Majlis yesterday behind closed doors. There is no information on what transpired from this meeting. However it is learnt reliably the committee was extremely concerned about the matter. There is also information Attorney General's Office is conducting a thorough investigation into the matter. Share holders of the company from the general public are shocked and very worried about the matter. Many of them have still not received the dividends for their shares.

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