President’s Office has refused to publish meeting minutes of the Settlement Committee.
Settlement Committee was established in January 2019 to advise President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on resolving cases of state compensation outside of court. The President abolished the committee in September 2020.
Dhiyares had requested the President’s Office to divulge the meeting minutes of the Committee under the right to information act. In response, the Office argued that the Committee meeting minutes were confidential and as such, cannot be released.
The President’s Office also said the Committee’s work was done by the Attorney General’s Office and that all relevant documentation had been forwarded to the Office, after the Committee was abolished.
The letter quoted clause nine of the procedures on out of court settlements, stating that “meeting minutes of the Committee were confidential and as such, cannot be divulged”.
The Government had doled out around a billion Maldivian Rufiyaa in 2019 via the Settlement Committee. More had been given out since then.
Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer defended the government’s stance on settling cases out of court for massive amounts. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in June, presented a white paper to the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee over the lack of transparency on out of court settlements.
Speaking in the Committee, Ameer said that the Government’s intentions were pure.
As such, the Committee had disbursed MVR 280 million (US$ 18.2 million) to the company in charge of border control system, MVR 130 million (US$ 8.5 million) to Villa company, MVR 848 million (US$ 55.2 million) to Noomadi, and MVR 30 million (US$ 2.0 million) to BIG. Economic Development Minister Fayyaz Ismail has shares in BIG, while Villa Group is owned by coalition partner Qasim Ibrahim.
Minister Fayyaz, while campaigning for ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s Chairperson slot, had confessed that the money that was given to BIG was used in the campaign.