The High Court concluded Tuesday that three islands leased to Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim’s Villa Company were taken back by the state as per lawful proceedings.
Qasim, who is arrested over allegedly bribing lawmakers and attempting to topple the government, initially won the cases against the state in the Civil Court in 2015. However, the state has later won all the appeals at the High Court.
By issuing the verdict, the High Court stated that the islands of Gazeera in Gaafu Dhaal atoll, Maanenfushi in Raa Atoll and Maadhiggaru in Kaafu atoll were taken back by the government from Villa Company as per the regulations and, hence, the Civil Court’s verdict is therefore reversed.
The government abolished the agreement of these islands made with Villa Company when a shareholder, WLT, filed a lawsuit against the state to find USD 112 million. Prior to this lawsuit, an individual named Ali Ibrahim along with some other related partners and Villa Company, had signed an agreement not to file any lawsuits against the state. In acceptance, the state decided to withdraw the money from the islands, rents and fines of Villa Company.
In the verdict issued by the High Cour, it stated that as WLT holds 70 percent shares of Villa Company, WLT's lawsuit contradicts the spirit of the agreement made between Villa and the state. Therefore, the court declared that it is reasonable for the state to abolish the agreements with Villa.
WLT filed the lawsuit against the state to seek compensation for damages caused when Airport Investment Maldives failed to hand over some islands to the company as per an agreement. Both the High Court as well as the Civil Court had concluded that not enough evidence was produced to prove the extent of damages caused. However, the verdicts added that the advance payment of USD 16.9 million of the islands must be given back to WLT.
Meanwhile, Villa Company has been fined USD 18 million while Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has also frozen the bank accounts of the company. Furthermore, the operations of Kaadehdhoo domestic airport previously handed over to Villa have also been taken back by the government.