The Edition


'No evidence against pres Yameen,' Maldives govt spurns Al Jazeera expose

Mohamed Visham
07 September 2016, MVT 18:41
President Yameen arrives for the ceremony held to launch the land reclamation project for the new airport runway on July 25, 2016. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
07 September 2016, MVT 18:41

Government on Wednesday moved quickly to spurn the Al Jazeera documentary by insisting that the Doha based broadcaster had failed to provide any evidence to substantiate the allegations against incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary titled ‘Stealing Paradise’ contains leaked documents, text messages and recorded confessions that has blown the lid off mass corruption and abuse of power in the archipelago.

According to the Doha based broadcaster, the leak is the contents of three mobile phones which it says belonged to the now jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

The documentary accuses president Yameen of orchestrating mass corruption, thuggery and international money laundering.

The president has also been accused of having personally dictated his rival and former president Mohamed Nasheed’s prison sentence.

According to text messages and confessions, president Yameen, through his former deputy had siphoned off millions in state funds, hijacked state institutions and bribed state officials including judges, lawyers and parliamentarians to exert his authoritarian power over the whole country.

In addition, leaked messages also show he had impeded the investigation into the disappearance of a young journalist.

President's Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali however, rejected the entire documentary as completely baseless.

A screen grab of the Al Jazeera documentary ‘Stealing Paradise’ shows an alleged text message sent by president Yameen to his then home minister Umar Naseer.

He repeatedly insisted that Al Jazeera had failed to produce a single shred of evidence to link president Yameen to the allegations made against him.

Muaz also pointed out that the government had already responded to most of the allegations made in the documentary.

Former aides of the now jailed ex-VP Adheeb had gone on record to say that they had personally delivered "bags of cash" to the president himself.

Mohamed 'Moho' Latheef who ran the front company through which nearly USD80 million was siphoned off told Al Jazeera that president Yameen was aware of the whole scheme.

"President Yameen will know me personally. I was there and I was managing some of their funds," Latheef who is among the eight suspects wanted in connection to the blast aboard the presidential speedboat last year.

The official audit report had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The country's graft watchdog had questioned president Yameen over the transfer of funds linked to MPPRC to a to his personal account in the Islamic Bank.

The figure was reportedly USD1 million which the president denied any knowledge of.

However, Al Jazeera had revealed a second cheque worth USD500,000 transferred to the same account.

"VP asked me to deposit a cheque to the president's account. Directly to his account. I did two transactions," Latheef says.

Mohamed ‘Oittey’ Hussain, Adheeb's former driver also an international fugitive along with Latheef also claims to have delivered cash to the president himself.

"Sometimes he [Adheeb] will tell me go and give it to the president. For the president it is a lot. I mean its difficult to carry even," Hussain told Al Jazeera.