V. Aarah acquisition cost lowered on Yameen’s behest: Adeeb

Former Vice President of Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb (Bro) (L) seen at a government function with his former boss Former President, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (R) | Photo: Presidents Office

Malé, Maldives – Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb testified at Criminal Court to have lowered the acquisition cost of V. Aarah on the request of Former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Former President Yameen is being charged with money laundering and acceptance of a bribe of USD 1 million from former MP of Felidhoo Constituency Yusuf Naeem.

Testifying at the court in the case against Former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom for money laundering and bribery in connection to V. Aarah Ahmed Adeeb told that Yameen had informed of an interested investor for the island in 2015 and that Yusuf Naeem had given USD 1 million to get the deal done.

Adeeb also told the court that Yusuf Naeem had told him that they would get USD 1 million once the island was leased. He further added that since the island was under the Ministry of Fisheries And Agriculture at the time, he had informed President Yameen of the issue.

Following this, Yameen has instructed the economic council of his cabinet to bring the island under Tourism Ministry to which the council had complied.

Adeeb further added that the initial lease cost for the island was set at USD 5 million and was lowered to USD 3 million on Yameen’s initial request. On the second time Yameen had requested to lower the price to USD 2 million to which Adeeb testified that he complied and finalized the deal with Yusuf Naeem’s company.

He also told the court that in a meeting between him, former Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) Abdulla Ziyath and Yusuf Naeem after signing the acquisition contract for V. Aarah that Yusuf Naeem had told them both that he had done favors for Yameen including giving USD 1 million to Yameen.

Following the testimony of Adeeb, prosecution had told the court that they did not want to proceed with one of the witnesses testimony on his request not to testify.

State also requested the court to allow a new witness to be presented to verify the mismatch of the date on one of the chain of custody forms which was denied by Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel citing that all witnesses lists had been presented previously.

Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel announced that hearings will be carried out the next two days in which defence witness testimonies will be taken. Although the prosecution requested to take all defence witnesses testimonies on the same day, Chief Judge Ahmed Shakeel denied the request stating that one witness will be allowed tomorrow to testify and he will decide on the remaining testimonies based on the time taken for tomorrows testimony.

The charges for Former President Yameen and former MP of Felidhoo Constituency Yusuf Naeem include:

  • Former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom – Money laundering under Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act, 2014 (Act No. 10 of 2014) and acceptance of a bribe under Chapter 510(a)(d) of the Maldives Penal Code (Law No. 6/2014)
  • Former MP of Felidhoo Constituency Yusuf Naeem – Bribery under Chapter 510(b)(d) of the Maldives Penal Code (Law No. 6/2014)

The Prosecution had previously told that on September 15, 2015 Yusuf Naeem handed over a check of USD 1 million which was deposited to ex President Yameen’s HSBC account on the following day, 16 September 2015.

President Yameen allegedly transferred USD 1,001,409 from the HSBC account to his BML account on February 22, 2016. USD 1,295,000 was then transferred to an MIB account from the BML account almost a year later on February 21, 2017.

A month later on March 14, 2017 USD 3,413,230 was then transferred to a general investment account at the same bank, MIB, for 36 months.

The prosecution is seeking to seize the alleged bribe amount, any additional amounts from ex-President Yameen’s bank accounts and any resulting profit from investments.