English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Former Maldives president gets 11 years for corruption, slapped with $3 million penalty

Former Maldivian president and opposition leader Abdulla Yameen (Photo: Twitter)

Former Maldivian president Abdullah Yameen, currently the opposition leader, has been asked to pay $1 million of laundered money and $2 million more related to corruption while dealing with a foreign company for resort development.

The Criminal Court in the Maldives also sentenced Yameen to 11 years in prison over corruption and money laundering charges related to the leasing of Aarah island in Vaavu Atoll to a foreign party, according to the Maldivian media. Yameen is the leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The case relates to the months of February and March 2017 when Yameen was found to have deposited a cheque worth $1 million into his HSBC account, which has since been labeled as the bribe. Later a total of $3,413,230 was deposited into another account opened in Yameen’s name for investment purposes at the Islamic Bank.

The Criminal Court concluded that the entire amount has to be paid back to the State within six months.

Judge Ahmed Shakeel said no justification was given on why such a large amount was deposited in the private account of the former president, who was in a position of power at that time. The judge added that evidence shows the money deposited in Yameen’s bank account was related to the leasing of Aarah Island. The court noted that Yameen invested this money for profit.

Yameen is believed to be close to China and had invited the communist giant to invest in building infrastructure for the Maldives. Once he lost the elections to Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the current President of the country in 2018, the government changed track and decided to bring in India as a preferred development partner. China has since then made overtures but the current Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has kept Beijing at bay, witnessing the deep financial crisis of close neighbour Sri Lanka.

In 2019, Yameen was sentenced to five years in jail and was put under house arrest in 2020. He was freed soon after with the court letting him off on a technical fault after which he returned to full time politics – whipping up an anti-India campaign.

Yameen has filed an appeal against the 11-year jail sentence before the High Court.

How the court ruling will impact his political future is not known considering Yameen is a presidential candidate for the 2023 elections against President Solih.

Also read: China’s Wang Yi begins Maldives visit amid tussle with India in the Indian Ocean