MIFCO CEO suspended amid accusations of corruption, corporate governance issues

Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Shamah Rasheed
Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Shamah Rasheed has been suspended amid an investigation sparked by whistleblower complaints | Photo courtesy of the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company
4 Min

An investigation launched by the Maldives Committee on State-Owned Enterprises has resulted in the suspension of Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Shamah Rasheed amid accusations of corruption and misuse of company funds.

The Privatization and Corporation Board (PCB), which monitors and evaluates companies that the government of the Maldives has either a majority or minority share in, announced Shamah was “temporarily suspended” on 18 March. According to The Edition, the PCB received complaints against Shamah related to corporate governance issues.

Soon after the suspension, the committee began an investigation, and discovered more issues at MIFCO, The Edition reported. The company was accused of participating in scams involving fish exports, the oil business, distributing improper financial gifts, using MIFCO resources for political activities, excessive expenditures on personal trips, and more. All told, 12 different allegations were made accusing Rasheed and MIFCO of engaging in “illicit businesses” and making financial gain.

Shamah told the committee he was given no prior notice by the PCB of the suspension and that the actions taken against him violated Maldivian law, The Edition reported.

“All the legal procedures were not completed as per my knowledge,” he told the committee.

The PCB said it received information via its whistleblower portal alleging corruption, including instances of text messages related to the case, with enough evidence to level five different charges related to Shamah’s management, including using MIFCO's building for participation in parliamentary elections and more than MVR 1.3 million (USD 84,400, EUR 79,300) of o expenditures on unsanctioned travel.

PCB Vice President Mohamed Firaz said the suspension was not a punishment, but a measure to temporarily isolate Rasheeed to ensure the investigation could proceed without interference.

Shamah said between 500 to 800 metric tons (MT) of fish are rejected 3,000-MT shipment, potentially due to high histamine levels. In some cases, some shipments have also come up short up to 500 MT. MIFCO CEO Bureau Secretariat Ibrahim Saeed said the corruption has continued since Shamah’s suspension, and some of it is related to illicit trading of goods, specifically involving rejected exports that are then resold to Thailand-based entities. 

“We believe the attack on the CEO came as a result of his actions to bring a halt to this large-scale [illicit] trade in Thailand,” he said. “We allege that they are keeping some employees of MIFCO on their payroll with this money.”  

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