The handover of flats to eligible recipients under the Gedhoruveriya social housing scheme will commence after seeking legal counsel regarding the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) investigation into the flat allocation, the Ministry of Housing, Land and Urban Development has said.

The ACC launched an investigation in response to public grievances about the allocation of flats. On 5 February, the commission reported that approximately 60 percent of the recipients finalised by the previous administration’s housing ministry were ineligible based on the established criteria. Although the applicants were eligible, the ACC identified issues with 19.7 percent of the flat application forms.

The housing ministry issued a statement about the matter following the submission of a resolution to parliament by Eva Abdulla, the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Galholhu of The Democrats, calling for a swift handover of the flats. During Wednesday’s parliament session, lawmakers from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats expressed their concerns over the ACC’s involvement in investigating the flat allocation.

The ACC has completed the first phase of its investigation and shared its findings on 1 February, the ministry said, followed by a meeting between the ACC and the ministry on 4 February.

“The ACC has indicated that it will provide additional details about the ongoing investigation. Upon receipt of this information, we will engage legal counsel for a comprehensive review. Subsequently, we will transfer the flats to the candidates who meet the eligibility criteria,” read the statement.

The ACC also revealed earlier that it is launching an investigation to ensure that the housing ministry of the previous government did not abuse its authority to provide undue advantage or benefit to some of the applicants.

A criminal investigation will be conducted to ensure no corruption was involved in the allocation of flats, according to the ACC, and police will be involved in the investigation to find out who submitted falsified information to the housing ministry in their applications for the housing scheme.

The ACC halted the handover of Gedhoruveriya flats in November last year following its probe into allegations of corruption. The ACC, however, authorised the housing ministry to recommence the handover of flats to eligible candidates on 1 February but asked the ministry to follow strict guidelines.

The initial 4,000 housing units being developed by the Fahi Dhiriulhun Corporation (FDC) are nearing completion. The housing ministry of the previous administration had earlier completed agreements with 4,000 eligible recipients and issued them with award letters through the ministry’s online portal.

The 4,000 were those who received the highest marks under the eligibility criteria, the ministry had said. When questioned if the housing ministry of the current administration can revoke those agreements, Adam Shameel, the president of the ACC, told a parliamentary committee that it is outside of the ACC’s jurisdiction to influence a civil agreement made between the government and a member of the public.

The ACC has drawn the ire of the public and parliamentarians over its “interference” in the allocation of the Gedhoruveriya flats. In her resolution, MP Eva called for the immediate alleviation of the difficulties faced by the recipients, many of whom live under dire conditions, by handing over the flats to the eligible recipients as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, a group of individuals, deemed eligible for the flats in the list published by the previous government, entered the premises of the ACC in protest, expressing their concerns over the ACC’s findings.