Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, who was released earlier this month after ex-President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih commuted his 20-year prison sentence, has refuted claims of permanently relocating to Singapore. Adeeb, a central figure in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal, clarified that his current stay in Singapore is solely for medical reasons.

Adeeb, alongside Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of MMPRC, received presidential pardons after being convicted in a high-profile graft scandal involving the embezzlement of millions of US dollars in the lease of islands and lagoons for tourism. Both had been serving 20-year sentences but were under house arrest due to medical reasons.

In a recent post, Adeeb stated, “I am currently abroad for medical treatment & after that, I will return to my beloved country, where I will live, work & be buried in the soil of Maldives, where I belong, Insha Allah!” His party, the Maldives Third-Way Democrats (MTD), said that Adeeb underwent surgery in Singapore following hospitalisation for a severe neurological condition, believed to be a result of his solitary confinement between 2015 and 2018.

The MMPRC scandal, which received international attention including an Al Jazeera documentary, was a key issue in Solih’s 2018 presidential campaign. Solih had promised to investigate the case and recover the stolen funds. However, the decision to pardon Adeeb and Ziyath has drawn criticism from rights groups like Transparency Maldives and Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), accusing Solih of abuse of power and urging a revision of the Clemency Act.

Former President Abdulla Yameen, under whose administration the embezzlement occurred, is also serving an 11-year prison sentence for his involvement in the scandal. Yameen, who used to consider Adeeb as his right-hand man, is currently on trial on separate charges over alleged corruption in the lease of a different island, with his appeal nearing conclusion.