Malé, Maldives – Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has announced that he will take legal action against Bank of Maldives to get USD 1 million withheld in an escrow account.
In an interview he gave to a local media, President Yameen told that the USD 1 million transferred to his account by SOF was initially investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) of the country, during which he was requested to transfer the money to an escrow account, to which he obliged.
The initial investigations were carried out following a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) sent by Maldives Monterey Authority (MMA) after a USD 1 million deposit to one of his accounts at the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) was flagged. ACC previously stated that they had traced the transection to funds embezzled from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
Yameen has repeatedly stated that the USD 1 million he received was for carrying out political works and that he did not have to declare the source of it to any authority and that ACC did not have the right to take or withhold the money.
He further added that the agreement made between him and ACC dictates that ACC must prove that the USD 1 million was states money within on year and if not proven during this period that it would be returned back to him.
President Yameen also told that BML had not released the money in the escrow account to him and that he is in the process of suing the bank. These are the same funds based on which he was sentenced to five years in prison in 2019.
In November 2019, the Criminal Court sentenced that Yameen was guilty of laundering USD 1 million of the government through MMPRC by leasing GA. Vodamula. While a verdict on that case was appealed at the High Court, on January 21, High Court upheld the verdict of the Criminal Court.
However Former President Yameen was acquitted of the Criminal Court judgement unanimously by three justices of the Supreme Court on November 30, 2021.
The Supreme Court’s decision to acquit hinged on two main factors, the origin of the USD 1 million and the testimonies of two key witnesses.
- While the prosecutors argues that the USD 1 million was embezzled from the state, a discrepancy in the cheque number used to deposit the money, numbers are different in the bank statement and the deposit slip from the money laundering mediatory company SOF was different, caused contradictions to the origin of the cheque. The Supreme Court judges stated that it is not proven beyond doubt that the USD 1 million belonged to the state.
- Statements by key witnesses Ahmed Adeeb (bro) and Abdulla Ziyath, who were noted by the defense as hostile towards former President Yameen but accepted by the Criminal Court, were disregarded by the Supreme Court on the premise that they were untrustworthy under Islamic Shariah since they has confessed to a crime.
The Supreme Court expressed alarm over the prosecution’s decision to not prosecute SOF for embezzling approximately MVR 3.4 billion. A non-prosecution agreement was made by the state with SOF during former PG Aishath Bisham’s term that the current Prosecutor General’s Office has upheld.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has filed money laundering charges against the former President on 24 November 2021 at the Criminal Court regarding the lease of V. Aarah, which is ongoing. The PGO also has another ongoing case against the Former President of accepting bribes worth MVR 117,000 during the lease of R. Fuggiri for the development of a tourist resort.