JP leader and business tycoon charged and convicted of bribery

Member of Parliament representing Maamigili constituency, Gasim Ibrahim was charged and convicted of bribery resulting in the loss of his seat in the Parliament.

Gasim has been convicted after the court found him guilty of the charges of attempting to bribe lawmakers to endorse the opposition resulting in a 38 months sentence in prison. Criminal Court issued the ruling on Gasim’s trial at around 1 am today morning in absentia.

Gasim Ibrahim nor his Lawyers were present at the hearing where the famous business tycoon was sentenced to 3 years, 2 months and 12 days in prison. Gasim collapsed in court in an earlier hearing on Thursday and is undergoing treatment in IGMH as of today.

Criminal court has highlighted that the reason for the repeated absentia upon request on several hearings were not submitted by the legal counsel of Gasim Ibrahim and that it is an official decree of the court that Gasim be granted the opportunity to go abroad for proper consultation and treatment with reference to the medical report submitted by the doctors on Gasim’s health condition although the sentence is being carried out. The criminal court ruling also stated that 2 other criminal charges have been dropped because of the lack of legal reasoning behind the charges.

In Chapter 3 article 75 in the constitution of Maldives, it has been stated that Members of the People’s Majlis should be guided in their actions by considerations of national interest and public welfare foremost, and should not exploit their official positions in any way for their own benefit or for the benefit of those with whom they have special relations. They shall represent not only their constituencies but the country as a whole. Gasim Ibrahim by deliberate action and words have indeed acted on personal interest and in the best interest of the ones closest to him disregarding the national interest by attempted bribing of lawmakers to back the opposition.

Furthermore, it is strictly highlighted in the penal code (9/2014) section 510 (b) that “A person commits an offense if he offers a benefit not lawfully authorized by law in exchange for (A) influencing or agreeing to influence official authority, or (B) exercising or omitting to exercise official authority.”

Section 3.a of the Prevention and Prohibition of corruption act (2/2000) also states that “It is an offence for a member of the People’s Majlis or a person elected to be a member of the People’s Majlis  or a person appointed to the People’s Majlis on his own or through an agent to accept bribery, to request for bribery, to agree to accept, or to propose to offer bribery, or to agree to bribe, or to offer bribery in any form to motivate someone, to reward, in order to act or omit to act in the capacity as a member of the People’s Majlis.”  And in section 3.b it is stated that “A person who commits an offense stated in subsection (a) shall be punishable with imprisonment, or banishment or house arrest not exceeding 7 years”

Therefore, JP leader and Member of Parliament, Gasim Ibrahim by open admission, can be charged under any article mentioned above. Gasim at an event held at the main campaign hub of the opposition, M.Kunooz, on 26th March, said that he will personally guarantee a “ticket” for the upcoming parliament elections for the members who give in the “Green button” for the impeachment vote of the Speaker of Parliament. He also mentioned that the oppositional leadership will surely compensate any losses the members encounter with other benefits that come along after the vote by all means necessary.

Gasim Ibrahim was charged under the Penal code section 510(b) by the prosecutor general on these charges and have lawfully been convicted under the penal code section 510 (d) for imprisonment for a sentence of 38 months.

The criminal court ruling (627/Cr-C/2017) states that Gasim Ibrahim on being charged with the offence of bribery under the section 510 (b) of the Penal court has been found guilty of influencing or agreeing to influence official authority or exercising or omitting to exercise official authority referring to his speech given in M.Kunooz on 26th of March regarding the impeachment vote of the Speaker of Parliament. The ruling also said that the words he uttered can be used as legal evidence to prove his intentions with regard to the nature of the crime and that disclosing that compensation and other benefits shall be awarded to members who vote in favor of the impeachment vote is an adequate act of bribery and that Gasim is sentenced under the Penal code section 1002 (b) for an average sentence of 3 years 2 months and 12 days which is half the full sentence that can be sought in this case.

” Gasim’s seat in the People’s Majlis will also be lost after the issuing of this ruling by criminal court as Part two of the Article 73-C (2) of the Constitution states that if a Member of Parliament gets convicted of a criminal offense resulting in a sentence of more than one year, the said Member of Parliament would lose their parliamentarian seat. “

It is very typical of politicians to make vows and promises to the general public regarding their intentions on the development and public service. However, Gasim’s Speech on the 26th March is evidently very different from other ordinary campaign addresses given by any other politician. Gasim’s words clearly indicate that offers were made targeted to a specific group of Parliamentarians regarding the impeachment vote of the Speaker of Parliament.

It is the opinion of many that this ruling on the bribery charges of business tycoon and oppositional leader has political reasons embedded deep within. But it is stated in the Constitution of Maldives that each and every citizen of Maldives shall encounter the same legal consequences if criminal offenses were committed. In this regard, the ruling on Gasim’s Bribery charges is fully justified and has no room for political doubt or chaos.

Several Companies operated under Gasim’s Villa group has also been sued to face hefty fines amounting to an approximate amount of MVR 2 billion for failure to present due payments to the state.