People using drug money to be tried under money laundering charges

Prosecutor General of Maldives Hussain Shameem | Photo: Sun

Malé, Maldives – The Prosecutor General’s office has started charging those using drug money with money laundering charges under the Preventing Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism Act.

According to part (c), section 7 of the Act, money laundering charges may be raised in drug trafficking cases, and would apply to those accused of trafficking drugs, their spouses and relatives who partake in handling the money.

In a blogpost made by Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, he wrote that the issue of drugs in the Maldives is among the biggest, and toughest issues to tackle in the justice system. He added that he believes that the best way to resolve the issue via policy changes would be to go after the money.

He referred to statistics, revealing that 47 percent of the cases tried by the state during 2019 were charges raised under the Drugs Act, but if petty crimes aiding in drug activities such as mugging were also taken into consideration, the figures soar above 60 percent, adding that the situation is likewise for the year 2020 as well.

Shameem continued saying that the number of drug users need to be reduced in the Maldives and that it can only be done by going after those who traffic and make a business out of drugs.

The key to achieving this would be going after the money of those who benefit from drugs

Hussain Shameem, Prosecutor General, Maldives

As such, he said that claiming the money involved in drug cases have been separately made into a common practice since he assumed office in 2020.

The goal is to take the money into the state and direct it towards drug related programs organized by the govenment. No such case has yet been closed. Once such cases start closing, those using money like this would know that apart from going to jail, we’re also going to take their money.

Hussain Shameem, Prosecutor General, Maldives

The second change in policies would be those who ‘wash’ drug money to be charged with money laundering as well.

Touching [being actively selling drugs] is not a must. So far, some people believe that they wouldn’t be found guilty if they don’t touch drugs. With this change in policy, that thinking will come to an end. In order for the crime of money laundering to be complete, it only requires to suspect that the money received and used by someone was done so by money through crime. It is not even necessary to be clearly proved. It is difficult for me to believe when the wife of a drug dealers says that she doesnt know where her husband’s money came from. When it is said that the source of income is unknown, it can be seen that the money has been used on suspicious activities.

Hussain Shameem, Prosecutor General, Maldives

The first of such cases was filed with the Criminal Court on the 18th of March, regarding the case of drugs which were imported on 12th January and found from four houses in Malé. All four individuals in question regarding the case have money laundering charges raised against them.

While the PG states that this is only the beginning, he stressed the importance of collaborative effort from all relevant authorities.