Common Candidate, RDC Corruption, Apartment Scam

Thursday, July 6

Heavy rainfall, tidal surges and strong winds caused damages on islands in northern and central atolls. A dozen islands reported incidents including roofs blown off houses, walls collapsing and floodwaters entering homes, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. Gusts felled trees on several islands.

Thursday, July 6

A cross-party section of members walked out of a Malé City Council meeting, accusing Mayor Dr Mohamed Muizzu of refusing to include in the agenda a proposal to reconstitute committees to reflect changes in political party representation. Democrats councillor Saif Fathih disputed the mayor’s claim that the proposal by Progressive Party of Maldives councillor Ahmed Aifan had not been submitted within the 72-hour advance period. Muizzu has lost a majority of the opposition-dominated council over internal strife within the PPM about an alternative presidential candidate, Saif suggested.

Wednesday, June 5

The Road Development Corporation denied reports about the embezzlement of MVR13 million (US$843,060) from the state-owned company. RDC managing director Moosa Ali Manik and chief financial officer Yasir Hassan are accused of transferring money out of the company’s bank accounts. According to media reports, the alleged theft was reported to the police by the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit. The police confirmed the investigation of an “RDC-related case” but did not disclose any further details.

But RDC said neither the police nor the central bank has informed the company about an investigation. Denying any wrongdoing, CFO Yasir told Mihaaru that up to MVR500,000 was transferred monthly to the accounts of three finance section staff for distribution as petty cash, insisting that it was in line with banking and financial rules.

Wednesday, June 5

The Democrats held its inaugural congress and approved its name, logo and colours. MP Hassan Latheef was appointed as interim chairman along with three deputies.

The new party was formed by a breakaway faction of the Maldivian Democratic Party loyal to former president Mohamed Nasheed, who left the ruling party last month.

In his speech at the event, Nasheed declared that neither himself nor former president Abdulla Yameen should contest in September’s presidential election.

“The polls show that the majority of the people are undecided. President [Ibrahim Mohamed] Solih gets 15%. I get 6%. President Yameen gets 18%. The majority of the people of Maldives, 55% of the people are undecided,” he said, calling for opposition parties to unite behind a common candidate.

Nasheed’s appeal drew an angry reaction from the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress, which has been insisting that Yameen remains its candidate despite his 11-year prison sentence on bribery and money laundering charges. Since formally awarding the presidential ticket to Yameen in August last year, the opposition coalition has refused to publicly entertain speculation about an alternative candidate, holding out hope that his conviction would be overturned on appeal.

PPM MP Ahmed Shiyam, who attended the inaugural congress as a guest, said Nasheed expressed his opinion but The Democrats were “a little behind” in the presidential race as the PPM has already started Yameen’s campaign.

Door-to-door campaigning was launched in Malé on Monday.

The Democrats has been engaged in talks with the opposition Progressive Congress Coalition about working together. A fourth meeting took place on Friday “to find common ground for the upcoming presidential election of September 9, 2023.”

A local businessmen suspected in the fraudulent sale of luxury apartments from the K-Park Residence, a Korean-style 110-apartment complex under construction in Hulhumalé, was taken into custody. The police obtained an arrest warrant a day after the criminal court lifted a travel ban and authorised Hassan Mamdhuh to travel overseas to meet his family.

Mamdhuh, a minority shareholder of the K-Park developer Hanbo Company, is accused of taking large sums as payments from several buyers after forging the signature of managing director Shihu Jin, a Chinese national who owns 95% of shares in the company. The same apartment was allegedly sold to multiple buyers. Both Hanbo and the state-owned Urbanco asked the police to investigate the alleged fraud in May.

Mamdhuh’s alleged accomplices, Jaishan Saeed and a Korean national named Soon Soo Kim, have also been barred from leaving the country. Abdul Nafiu Mohamed, a development officer at Urbanco whose job involved evaluating investment proposals submitted to the state-owned developer of Hulhumalé, was suspended over suspected involvement in the scam.

Allegations about a female police officer’s inappropriate sexual relations with senior officers are under investigation by the professional standards unit, the police informed the media.

A cargo boat sank en route from Malé to Mahibadhoo. Eight crew members were rescued at sea by a police speedboat dispatched from Alif Dhaal Atoll. The ‘Ricardo’ boat sank with about a million Rufiyaa worth of equipment sent by the health ministry to the atoll hospital and island health centres.

The High Court resumed hearings in the appeal of former president Abdulla Yameen’s 11-year imprisonment on bribery and money laundering charges. A three-judge bench heard arguments from defence lawyers, who mainly challenged the testimony of former vice president Ahmed Adeeb as a prosecution witness, contending that his claims lack weight due to his animosity towards Yameen.

The 64-year-old remains barred from contesting in September’s presidential election unless the conviction is overturned. The deadline for filing candidacy papers is 7 August.

Yameen was found guilty on 25 December of accepting a bribe from former lawmaker Yoosuf Naeem to arrange the no-bid lease of Vaavu Aarah. The former MP for Vaavu Felidhoo was also convicted of bribery and sentenced to three years, two months and 12 days in prison.

Aarah case timeline:

  • August 9, 2015 – Authority to lease Aarah transferred to tourism ministry on the order of president Yameen
  • August 13, 2015 – a company called 2G Pvt Ltd with a 99% stake owned by Yoosuf Naeem is created 
  • September 8, 2015 – 99% of shares in 2G Pvt Ltd sold to LA Resorts Pvt Ltd
  • September 9, 2015 – Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) hands over Aarah to 2G. LA Resorts issues US$1 million cheque to the MMPRC as the island’s lease acquisition cost. A separate US$1 million cheque is issued to Naeem.  
  • September 13, 2015 – US$1 million cheque deposited to Naeem’s account
  • September 15, 2015 – cheque for US$1 million issued by Naeem to then-president Yameen
  • September 17, 2015 – US$1 million deposited to an account opened under Yameen’s name at HSBC.

Yameen and Naeem insisted the transaction was a sale of US dollars for Dhivehi Rufiyaa, claiming it was unrelated to the resort lease.

Tuesday, June 4

Solar panels at the Hulhumalé highway were blown off into the sea by strong winds. Four unattached panels blew away during installation work, according to the environment ministry, which launched an inquiry and assured that none of the panels attached to the structure were affected by the wind.

Tuesday, June 4

Senior Democrats official Hussain Amr apologised for accusing journalists of taking bribes from the president’s office. At a press briefing after talks with the opposition Progressive Congress Coalition on Sunday, Amr sparred with reporters and accused them of asking questions as instructed by the president’s office.

Both the union Maldives Journalists Association and regulator Maldives Media Council condemned “attempts to discredit journalists with unfounded allegations.”

Monday, July 3

A special sitting of parliament convened during recess was called off shortly after it began. MP Hassan Afeef, who was presiding as chair, said a report on the reconstitution of standing committees needed to be revised again after Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and Central Hithadhoo MP Ahmed Rasheed left the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party. The composition of committees reflect the representation of political parties in parliament.

The sitting was rescheduled for next week.

It was organised at the request of the MDP to complete unfinished tasks when parliament broke for recess last month, including impeachment motions against the speaker, deputy speaker, attorney general and foreign minister.

Monday, July 3

A motorcycle driver who crashed into a pedestrian was arrested.

Ali Hafeez, a 50-year-old senior lecturer at the Maldives National University, remains in critical condition after the accident occurred on 28 June. The 22-year-old man crashed into Hafeez as he left the mosque after dawn prayer and crossed the street on Majeedhee Magu. He was reportedly thrown forty feet away.

The police said the arrest was put off to allow the driver to undergo treatment for injuries. The police said at the time that he did not have a driving license. 

Sunday, June 2

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih inaugurated land reclamation in Gulhifalhu to award plots of land to native residents of Malé. The project to reclaim 150 hectares from the lagoon with 18 million cubic metres of sand was contracted to Boskalis for US$130.6 million. The Dutch company previously reclaimed 68 hectares under the first phase of the project.

Speaking at the ceremony, the president announced an increase in the number of housing plots to be handed out from the manmade islands near the capital from 5,000 to 6,200, including 2,200 plots in Hulhumalé and 2,000 plots each in Gulhifalhu and Giraavaru.

Dredging was also underway in the Giraavaru lagoon west of Thilafushi with 20 hectares reclaimed as of last week.

The Thilamalé bridge under construction between Malé, Vilimalé, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi will eventually extend to Giraavaru, the president said.

Sunday, June 2