Heads of agencies brief parliament's SOE committee on rampant scams and cash crunch: The committee has kept it under wraps. Photo/Majlis

Committee on bank account fraud made confidential

Since most of the agencies and members who went to the committee wanted it, the committee chairman decided to go ahead with the meeting in secrecy.

1 March 2023

By Ahmed Naif

The meeting of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Committee of parliament, which convened on Wednesday to look into the increasing number of siphoning off funds from bank accounts through scams, has been kept under wraps on the request of agencies.

The SOE committee was summoned on Wednesday in connection with the loss of funds from the accounts of several bank customers, who are victims of scams: 

  • Senior officials of the bank

  • Central Bank, MMA Governor

  • Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) owners

  • Officers with the police 

Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb, who chaired the committee, pointed out that if the committee continues to be open, the nature of the case will lead to difficulties in obtaining the full information required by the committee in the case. Ilyas then sought the opinion of the agencies who were present in the committee.

An official, who was present on behalf of CAM, said the information to be shared with the committee on the scams would include national security issues. He added that the information shared with the committee could help the scammers if made public.

"Since there may be a lot of privileged information, it is the request of the communication authority that [the committee] should not go ahead with it openly," he said.

Governor Ali Hashim said that if the committee continues open, the only information that can be disclosed is what can be discussed in public places. He was also hesitant to reveal the rest of the information.

"We can't say anything about specific people if it is open," the Governor said.

Chief Superintendent Ahmed Shakir, who appeared before the committee on behalf of the police, said that public disclosure of information about what is happening in cyberspace can have adverse effects. We want to discuss in a very clear manner what is highlighted in the investigations and everything around it," Shakir said.

"We say the committee should be kept secret to access full information," Shakir said.

No objection from BML

The bank's CEO and Managing Director Karl Stumke, who spoke on behalf of the bank at the committee, said the bank had no problems with holding the committee meeting openly. He also assured that information would be disclosed so that customer information and sensitive information are not disclosed even in an open situation.

However, since most of the agencies and members who went to the committee wanted it, the committee chairman decided to go ahead with the meeting in secrecy.