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State drafts settlement agreement over controversial Sealife housing fraud

Raif Amyl Jalyl
16 July 2019, MVT 21:59
Land given to Sealife Global to erect 3000 housing units in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale'. PHOTO: MIHAARU.
Raif Amyl Jalyl
16 July 2019, MVT 21:59

The government made a settlement agreement on Monday mandating the state to compensate flat buyers who had paid booking fees for the 3,000 housing units that Sealife Global failed to construct in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale'.

Sealife Global is implicated in the major housing project scam where they are accused of taking millions of Rufiyaa from potential tenants in order to complete the housing units.

Following the signing of the agreement between the state and the people prosecuting Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Ministry of Economic Development and Sealife, the matter was settled out of court. The Dispute Resolution Division of the Civil Court ordered the implementation of the agreement late Monday.

According to the order, the settlement agreement was made following discussions between HDC, the incumbent administration and the people suing Sealife. There are 203 individuals seeking compensation from Sealife.

The administration has yet to disclose details about the agreement.

Local media Mihaaru reported that, under the terms of the agreement, the state would use the MVR 12 million, owed to Sealife by the state, to compensate the people. The money was originally owed to Sealife after the company sued the state over the 2011 overruling of the agreement between the then-Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administration and Sealife, under which the latter was contracted to develop 80 housing units.

It was former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration that agreed to pay the MVR 12 million to Sealife in February 2018. The current administration agreed that the money would be used to refund the people, as well as develop housing units within two years for those interested.

The Civil Court order identified that Sealife had conceded that refunding the tenants for their booking fees was mandatory. Accordingly, the settlement agreement further dictates that the state would receive the returns taken by the court in the case.

While the company conceded to refund the booking fees, the Civil Court order further noted that Sealife's Managing Director Ahmed Moosa had denied the need to take personal responsibility in the case.

Local media Mihaaru further alleged that top officials of the previous administration had used their influences to contract such a major housing project to Sealife with full knowledge that the company did not have the capability to complete the project.

Many companies submitted proposals for the housing project to erect 3,000 units in Hulhumale'. It was clear by a diligence report by HDC employees that Sealife did not have the financial capabilities to complete the project. Sealife is accused of acquiring major financial deposits as down-payments by fraud.

The agreement between HDC and the company forbade taking more than MVR 50,000 as payments prior to the completion of 20 percent of the project. However, no actions were taken by relevant institutions despite Sealife violating the terms of this agreement.