Former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom who is serving an 11-year prison sentence after being convicted of money laundering and bribery, on Wednesday, underscoring that money laundering is carried out in nations where the government cannot easily obtain information from banks, has described Maldives as a nation that does not fit this criterion.
Criminal Court sentenced Yameen to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2022, after finding him guilty of money laundering and bribery charges in connection to the sale of V. Aarah for resort development. He also received a fine of USD 5 million.
Speaking at a hearing of the High Court appeal of his conviction – Yameen said money, for laundering, is deposited at banks in nations where the government cannot easily access the banks. He described Maldives as a country that does not fit this criterion.
Noting that the police in the Maldives were empowered to seek the bank statement of each citizen, Yameen said the police exercise the power, both with and without court orders.
“Therefore, realistically, an individual who wants to launder money in the Maldives, will not deposit the money to a local account. Will not deposit money with a (local) bank,” he said.
The former president, pointing out that money in the possession of Yoosuf Naeem, his co-defendant in the case, has not been proven at any court to have been obtained through unlawful means – also stressed the prosecution’s failure to establish why he had to know how Yoosuf Naeem acquired the money.
He also noted that it was the central bank, Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), which carried the highest responsibility of monitoring money laundering, instead of the police, in the Maldives.
In this trajectory, he detailed the banks are mandated to alert MMA if an amount of money exceeding MVR 200,000 is deposited into the account of a leading political figure. He added that the MMA, will then have the authority to trace the trail of money, and take necessary action if investigations reveal the money had been obtained unlawfully.