The first televised trial in Maldives history was held on Sunday, as former president Abdulla Yameen's money laundering trial began.
While three lawyers represented him in court, the former president could not stop himself from making a few remarks in court.
Below is an unofficial transcript of the former president's remarks.
Yameen: In fact, Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor was managing my finances, this was revealed in Adeeb’s statement as well and he also announced on this public TV which the public witnessed. He was managing my campaign funds and all my finances. I told him to hand over my finances during October.
Judge Hailam: Which year was it?
Yameen: It was in October 2015. I believe these were the funds that were transferred. After depositing the money, Adeeb confirmed it to me. It was not me who deposited the funds. I do not even know who made the deposit and after it was deposited, it was not credited to my account. Even the bank did not notify me that the funds were deposited. However, Adeeb did tell me that he was making the deposit. Under the Maldives Banking Act, the banks are required to protect their customers if the notice unknown funds. That is done to prevent money laundering under the constitution and to protect the people.
If they do not know the origins of a transaction, they are required to notify the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) immediately following which the authority will make a decision on the matter within 72 hours. This is how it is mandated under the banking act. As we know it, this case was reported to the FIU which then investigated the case. If the MMA had not given the authorization, FIU would not have allowed the deposit to my account.
Thus, whichever way it was acquired, I believe the funds were deposited to my account under Adeeb’s supervision, and it is his responsibility. I do not have any links to Scores of Flair, (SoF), I do not know them. As such, although these funds were acquired through SoF illegally, I did not have the prior knowledge in the transaction and if it was acquired illegally, ACC must have been able to halt the transactions at any time.
Even though it was credited to my account, ACC must have been able to stop it. What I am trying to say is, ACC and MMA carried out investigations into the case and so far MMA has not accepted that the transactions carried out by SoF are illegal. This has been revealed in the ACC’s investigative report. Next is ACC’s transactions. State sources claim that investigative bodies have asked me to return the money. They have not. None of the investigative bodies have asked me to return the funds to ACC.
Judge Hailam: When the state presented witnesses in the form, did the witnesses not testify that you were informed to return the funds?
Yameen: Although witness testimonies reveal that it had been done, as the accused I can say that I was not asked to return the funds.
Judge Hailam: Not even verbally?
Yameen: I wasn’t asked even verbally.
Judge Hailam: The court shall know through the witness testimonies.
Yameen: Neither verbally nor in written form. These two cheques were deposited in October 2015 and I only found out they were from SoF once ACC’s ex-President Hassan Luthufee told me through a phone call months later, in 2016, that there has been a deposit to my account. I immediately told him to investigate the case and to check whether there was any misconduct or corruption into the deposit. I inquired to check whether the funds were linked to MMPRC or the state on the spot. They began the investigations and up till date I have not been informed by anyone that the funds do not belong to me, or even whether it belongs to the state or MMPRC. I was not asked to return the funds, neither verbally nor in written form. They told me they would conclude the case very soon and since it was drawing out, I told them myself that I wanted to open an escrow account because I do not want to own “suspicious” funds.
Following this, the escrow account was opened on 25 March 2018.
Judge Hailam: You said you do not want to keep suspicious funds in your account, if so, why did you not deposit the funds deposited to your Islamic Bank account from SoF, to the escrow account?
Yameen: The escrow agreement highlights that nothing illegal must be carried out. As such, since the funds deposited to my account were being investigated by ACC, I did not want to do anything with it as my account was being investigated. I did not want to touch it as the investigations may come to any conclusion. If it did conclude that it was misappropriated, I would not have wanted to use any funds in the account because it would have been illegal, as stated under the agreement. And even if I did want to return the money from the escrow account, they asked me to return it from the MIB account. They were referring to the SoF cheque. After it entered my account, I couldn’t have been able to find it. It would have been in MMA.
Judge Hailam: Funds are accused of being misappropriated, how is it deemed illegal to return the funds when investigative bodies ask you to return them?
Yameen: I have repeatedly said that I was not asked to return the funds. I was only told that an SoF cheque had entered my account. Once I was told that an SoF cheque was deposited in my account I told them that I didn’t want to keep it in my account if it belongs to the state. Back then I had about USD 3-4 million in my account, not just the USD one million transferred through SoF. I was at the highest order then, there was no reason for me to keep funds that belonged to the state. It was the ACC’s responsibility to find out if the transactions were illegal. Once I am told that the funds are illegal and that I need to return it, I will.
A point noted in the escrow agreement clearly states that once investigations are completed, they will know whether or not the funds belong to the state. Once they are declared misappropriated funds, they told me they would notify me and that they were giving me a 12-month period after signing the escrow agreement.
Judge Hailam: Did the agreement not highlight that the funds must be deposited to the escrow account?
Yameen: The agreement also states that I must deposit the funds, but as I said before, the funds they needed were in reference to the SoF cheque. After it was deposited to my account there was no way it could have been relocated and deposited elsewhere. There was no way I could have located the cheque. I did not believe I could return the money from MIB as it involved funds being investigated.
If I withdrew money from that account, I would have been accused of attempting to confuse the origins of the drawn funds. Funds are funds, the state needs that USD one million and as it asked, I have kept it under an agreement, as it is. State must provide security for the people and those who investigated the case came to an agreement with me to keep the funds. I still do not understand why these charges have been raised against me.