Taken aback by the country’s anti-graft watchdog ruling out any corruption in the leasing of the international airport to GMR, the Maldivian government, on Tuesday, stuck to its stand, saying the contract was illegal and hinted it would be challenged in the court.

“The report does not change the government stand that the contract given by former President Mohamed Nasheed is illegal.

“The contract is not terminated on the ground that there is corruption but because it is done against the law of the land,” President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad told PTI.

Hinting that the report is likely to be challenged, he said, “We have to go through the report completely. There is an issue of $100 million cash advance, of which $78 million is given.

“If the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has not gone into it or into other details, and if there is a reasonable cause of doubt, this report can be contested by some parties.’’

Mincing no words, Mr. Imad also raised questions about the independence of the ACC.

“Many people say here that the ACC Board is not an unbiased organisation. They say it is politically motivated,” he said, and pointed out that the complaint before the board was filed during the tenure of Mr. Nasheed and not during the current regime.

$500-million contract

The current Maldivian government had, in December last, unilaterally terminated the over $500-million contract given to the GMR Group to develop and operate Male Airport, a project awarded by the earlier Nasheed administration.

The ACC, in its 61-page investigation report into the alleged corruption in the leasing of the country’s only operational international airport to GMR, declared that there was no corruption involved in the GMR’s bid during the evaluation phase of the deal.

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