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Ex-pres Yameen claims rightful ownership of USD 1 mln deposited by SOF

Mariyam Malsa
09 January 2019, MVT 13:41
Former President Yameen speaks to press after signing graft statements. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEEDH/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
09 January 2019, MVT 13:41

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, on Tuesday, stated that the USD 1 million deposited into his account by SOF Pvt Ltd, was not transferred to the escrow account due to reasonable suspicions.

Speaking to the press, Yameen asserted that the money SOF deposited into his account at Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) rightfully belonged to him as no court of law or government institution has proven otherwise. The former president presented this as the reason he did not transfer the USD 1 million to the escrow account jointly managed by himself and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Simultaneously, the former president also asserted the validity of the transfer to the escrow account. Instead of transferring the funds deposited in MIB, it was revealed that Yameen transferred money received from former Minister of Tourism Moosa Zameer, who was given the funds by a local company.

Yameen also revealed that he had transferred the funds deposited by SOF to an investment account in MIB.

USD 1 million deposited by SOF

In response to questions posed by journalists regarding the transactions with SOF, Yameen stated that the company did not owe him any money.

The former president stated that his personal accounts contained campaign funds, contributed by donators, which were managed by former vice president, Ahmed Adeeb, prior to his arrest.

Yameen stated that Adeeb complied with demands for money following the Finifenmaa launch accident. However, the former president stated that ACC informed him that a company by the name of SOF had transferred USD 1 million into his account shortly after Adeeb had confirmed payment of the same amount.

According to the former president, the transaction came as a 'surprise' as he was not familiar with SOF at that time.

Therefore, Yameen asserted that the USD 1 million was owed to him by the former vice president and that the only issue was that the transaction was carried out via SOF.

Yameen expressed his belief that the money deposited by SOF were state funds as there was no proof otherwise. Yameen also stated that he had information that even government institutions had carried out transactions through accounts managed by SOF.

If SOF funds did consist of laundered money, Yameen insisted that the government would have issued a public announcement prohibiting the acceptance of cheques from the company.

Investment account at MIB

Yameen agreed that the funds transferred to the escrow account were not those deposited by SOF, which were instead moved to an investment account in MIB.

The move to the investment account had been made before the agreement with ACC to deposit the USD 1 million into a jointly managed escrow account, stated Yameen. The former president attributed the decision to suspicions regarding the origins of the money.

Yameen also defended the decision to earn a profit from the SOF funds by moving them to an investment account, as they rightfully belonged to him.

"If it is my money, I can do whatever I want with it", stated the former president.

Yameen stated that only a ‘mad person’ would store funds in a bank account in a manner which did not generate a profit.

According to Yameen, the USD 1 million currently in the escrow account was legitimate as he had acquired it through a currency exchange with former Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer.

The former president gave his statements to the media after spending six hours at Police Headquarters signing statements regarding investigations into allegations of money laundering and provision of false information to government institutions.

Yameen attributed the long duration to the length of the statements and alterations which he wanted made.

Yameen stated that the issue was brought forth by ACC which, according to him, had no grounds to submit the case since USD 1 million was transferred to the escrow account as instructed.

When a journalist questioned him whether there was a chance of him being arrested in relation to the case, Yameen stated that he did not believe that there was any cause to justify an arrest.

Yameen is also under investigation for a total of MVR 22.2 million deposited into his bank account shortly before the 2018 presidential elections.

The Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) of MMA reported the matter to the police outlining the issue of two deposits, one amounting to MVR 10 million on September 5, and a further deposit of MVR 12.5 million on September 10, made to an account registered at MIB under Yameen’s name.

Although FIU had submitted the case during Yameen's presidency, it is alleged that the investigation did not commence because Yameen had access to information presented by FIU through the police.