Ex-FAM chief Bassam fails to get travel ban lifted

FAM’s president Bassam Adeel Jaleel. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

The Criminal Court on Wednesday denied a motion filed by Bassam Adeel Jaleel, the former president of the Football Association of Maldives (FAM), to lift the travel ban issued against him in response to an investigation against him for corruption.

The court has issued an order to have Bassam’s passport suspended from December 5 to June 6, in response to an ongoing investigation.

Bassam filed a motion with the court to have the travel ban temporarily lifted from Thursday to Monday, allowing him to travel overseas. But the court decided on Wednesday that there was no probable cause to revise the original travel ban order.

The police are investigating a case involving the theft of a huge amount of money sent by FIFA to FAM. Investigators are probing individual transactions in the case.

Last week, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) charged Bassam with one count of embezzlement and one count of money laundering for embezzling USD 10,000 in funds wired by the FIFA to FAM in August 2018.

Bassam wrote “sale of dollar” as the reason for the transfer of the funds from FAM’s account to his own account at the Bank of Ceylon, but investigators found no evidence the equivalent Rufiyaa was ever deposited to FAM’s account, reads the PGO statement.

Investigators tracked the funds to a USD 1,910 transfer to a private bank account in September 2018, after which it was used for expenses of Glacier Investments – a company he owns shares in.

Another USD 2,000 was used to pay the rent on his apartment at Rehendhi Residence.

Bassam faces a one-year, seven-month and six-day minimum mandatory sentence for embezzlement, and a prison sentence of five to 15 years for money laundering, with a possible fine of MVR 100,000 to MVR 1 million.

He also faces more charges as the police investigate additional cases related to corruption within the FAM, including the embezzlement of USD 1.9 million in funds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bassam has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.

The police launched the investigation into the FAM on October 22, 2023, on special orders from the prosecutor general.