Lawyers: Yameen ordered to pay state USD 3.4M unlawfully

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom waves to supporters from his residence. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Opposition leader, former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s legal team, on Wednesday, stated that their client was ordered to pay the state USD 3.4 million fine in connection to his money laundering conviction in V. Aarah case unlawfully.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined USD 5 million for money laundering and bribery in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development on December 25, 2022.

The USD 5 million fine included a USD 3.4 million fine for money laundering and USD 1.6 million fine for bribery.

Criminal Court ordered Yameen to USD 3.4 million from the USD 5 million within six months on February 26th.

Yameen appealed Criminal Court’s order to High Court.

The preliminary hearing in the case was held on Wednesday during which his legal team presented the appeal points following which the prosecution had responded to the appeal.

The main concern of Yameen’s legal team was Criminal Court’s initial judgement finding him criminally guilty had not included an order to make the fine payment, while a separate order was issued much later which instructed the payment of an extensive amount.  

Abdulla Shiyaz, included in Yameen’s legal team, underscored the later order had come after the Criminal Court case was appealed to High Court by the defendant.

He also explained that recovery of asset obtained via criminal means under the Anti-Money Laundering Act to the state can only be ordered through the respective judgment in the case while the law also specifies the course of action if such an order is forgetfully omitted from the judgement. The court of action, in this regard, as per Shiyaz, is bringing the matter to the attention during the appeal process.

Therewith, Yameen’s legal team had requested the High Court to declare the order to pay USD 3.4 million unlawful, in addition to granting an interim order to halt the payment of the fine till the conclusion of the High Court case.

The prosecution defended Criminal Court’s order, saying it has been issued within the confinements of law. They also emphasized that such an order could be issued separately from the judgement.

The next hearing will see Yameen’s side respond to prosecution’s rebuttal.

Such type of cases requires a judgement within a timeframe. In this regard, High Court would need to make a decision on the case before April 8th.

The bench presiding over the case is headed by Judge Mohamed Faisal. He is accompanied by Judge Hassan Shafeeu and Judge Dheebanaz Fahumy.