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'Did not withdraw any cases': FIU

02 October 2018, MVT 18:16
President Abdulla Yameen gestures at the closing ceremony of PPM Congress. PHOTO/MIHAARU
02 October 2018, MVT 18:16

Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA)'s independent agency, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), declared on Tuesday evening that it has not withdrawn any letters or reports filed by the unit at various institutions.

FIU, which is tasked with analysing information concerning money laundering activities and suspicious activity from commercial banks, made the statement after it surfaced that FIU recently filed a case at the police regarding MVR 22.5 million that was deposited in a private bank account of incumbent President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, just days before the presidential election.

In response to the reports, President's Office's spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali claimed on Tuesday afternoon that MMA had withdrawn the letter sent to Maldives Police Service by FIU.

Following Muaz's claim, FIU issued a statement via MMA's spokesperson Mohamed Nasih, stating that it has "not withdrawn any letter, report or other such information" shared with any investigative institution.

FIU went on to highlight that investigative institutions are, by law, mandated to use any information shared by the unit regarding money laundering, financial assistance to terrorism or other suspicious financial activities, to investigate the cases.

The unit had submitted the document regarding the MVR 22.5 million deposited in President Yameen's private account in Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB), to the police before the Presidential Election held on September 23.

However, the President's Office's spokesperson Muaz spoke out in defence of the president, stating that President Yameen had immediately contacted MMA's Governor Ahmed Naseer once the reports surfaced. According to Muaz, the governor had told President Yameen that he had not been informed when FIU sent the letter to the police.

The governor declined to comment to the media, as information of FIU investigations cannot be disclosed.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) now claims that the president received such a huge sum of money as funds for the presidential campaign. While the General Elections Act states that candidates are to keep separate bank accounts for election-related expenses, neither President Yameen nor PPM had previously stated that the account in MIB was created for election purposes.

Meanwhile, MMA has also released a statement via Nasih, stating that FIU alone is responsible for carrying out its mandate and making related decisions, as per the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act.

"Hence, any reports sent by FIU to the authorities come directly from the unit. This authority [MMA] does not play any part in it," said MMA.