Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on Sunday, refuted money laundering and bribery charges raised concerning leasing of Fuh'giri, Raa Atoll for tourism development.
The jailed former president faces charges of accepting bribes worth USD 1.3 million through Ahmed Kirk Risha, as well as exerting undue influence to acquire USD 1.1 million (MVR 17.2 million) from the aforementioned sum during the leasing process, after which he laundered the funds through Sun Investment Private Limited and Sun Construction and Engineering Private Limited.
The charges were raised under Article 5, Section (a) and Article 53, Section (a) and (b) of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act as well as Article 510, Section (a) and (d) of the Penal Code.
During the hearing held at the Criminal Court, head of Yameen's legal team and former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel asserted that the charges were politically motivated and pertained to actions that had never occurred.
He went on to state that Yameen was being charged in violation of principles of equality, asserting that the actual perpetrators of the crime were given leniencies as their testimonies are listed as evidence against the former president. In this regard, Jameel highlighted that former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was allowed to remain under house arrest at his own residence despite being convicted and jailed.
In addition to refuting the charges, Yameen expressed his opinion that the current trial over corruption and bribery claims could not be carried out while Krik Riza's case was also ongoing at the Criminal Court. He added that his charges would be baseless in the event that Riza is not convicted.
In response, presiding judge Ahmed Shakeel stated that the results of separate proceedings against Krik Riza, Sun Investment Private Limited and Sun Construction and Engineering Private Limited, would be conducted simultaneously even if the verdicts would be taken into consideration.
Yameen and his legal team requested a postponement in the ongoing trial, citing the submission of an appeal at the High Court against the Criminal Court's decision to initiate hearings for the new charges. Jameel stated that the registrar's subsequent rejection of the application was lodged with the High Court's assembly of judges.
In response, presiding judge Ahmed Shakeel stated that there was no official documentation of such an appeal since the email cited as proof by Yameen's legal team was invalid, and that the trial could only be postponed following the presentation of such a document.
In December 2019, the Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to five years in prison and imposed a fine of USD 5 million on money laundering charges concerning the embezzlement of MVR 3.3 billion from Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
On January 21, the High Court sustained the Criminal Court's 2019 verdict.
Yameen was widely implicated in the MMPRC scandal, the largest corruption case recorded in Maldives' history, involving the embezzlement of MVR 4 billion in state funds, which were acquired through leasing islands and lagoons for tourism development and siphoned by private company, SOF Pvt Ltd.
He is currently serving five years in jail, along with a fine amounting to USD 5 million, after he was found guilty on another count of money laundering in the MMPRC graft.