Shiyam denies being banned from leaving Singapore

Tourism tycoon Ahmed Shiyam’s speaking to media after his return from Singapore where Sun Travel and Tours has been ordered to pay USD24million in damages for the abrupt termination of a tourism contract with Hilton International. | Photo: MDA

Sun owner and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) leader Ahmed Shiyam Mohammed has accused the newly formed The Democrats of spreading false news that he was detained and banned from leaving when he arrived in Singapore to attend the hearings of Hilton International’s lawsuit against Sun Travel in the High Court.

Sun Travels, which is owned by parliamentary representative of Sh. Meedhoo, MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, had awarded the management of Iru Fushi to globally renowned Hilton International in 2009.

The ongoing conflict between them arose when Sun Travels later terminated the agreement in 2013, sixteen years before the contract matured, accusing Hilton of violating their terms by misrepresenting facts to influence the contract signing.

According to reliable sources, Ahmed Shiyam Mohammed was banned from leaving Singapore in a High Court case against Hilton for failing to pay the USD 24 million (MVR 368 million) in compensation by his company Sun Travels. He arrived in Maldives last night after being allowed to leave Singapore after agreeing to pay the money within three months.

Although reliable sources confirmed that he had been banned from leaving Singapore, Shiyam denied it while speaking to reporters in Maldives.

“This time when I went to Singapore, my passport was not withheld or detained in Singapore or prevented from leaving Singapore. I don’t know about it. I got the news from the media headlines as well,” he said.

When asked by a journalist why rumours of his detention in Singapore, Shiyam said that he believed, were spread by the new party of Mohammad Nasheed, The Democrats.

Siyam’s company evicted Hilton International from the Irufushi resort in May 2013. The 221-bed luxury resort was leased to the international hotel chain in 2009.

At the time, Hilton said it had been forced to stop its operations on Irufushi “due to events beyond our control.” Their eviction resulted in several booking cancellations.

Staff members said that Siyam had informed Hilton of the abrupt termination on April 30 and ordered the management to leave within 24 hours.

The island was then rebranded as Sun Siyam Irufushi.

Arbitration proceedings which began that May only ended in August 2015. Hilton had initially sought some USD 70million, but the figure was reduced to USD 24million, according to multiple well-placed sources.

With 50 days to go until the presidential election, Shiyam is a main partner in the coalition formed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for a second term. Last night, Shiyam said he was confident of Solih winning the election.