The High Court has upheld the Criminal Court’s conviction of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in connection to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) money-laundering case.
Yameen was sentenced to five years in prison on 28 November 2019, after being found guilty of laundering USD one million through state-owned MMPRC via a private company, Scores of Flair, during his presidential tenure. He was also slapped with a fine totaling USD five million, along with the jail sentence, to be settled within six months.
He was found guilty of depositing the USD one million laundered through state coffers, to a general investment account at Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB), he is also accused of using it for his personal gain for 36 months.
Yameen appealed the case at High Court and the verdict hearing in the appeal case began at around 2:26pm on Thursday afternoon.
The High Court verdict states that the USD one million laundered through state coffers must be returned, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), as it was used for political activities and for personal reasons of the former president.
ACC’s reports into the initial investigations reveal that Yameen had denied to return the funds into the beginning of 2016, having stated that his former deputy, Ahmed Adeeb should return the funds as he was the one who gave him the funds. However, Adeeb had denied these accusations and testified against Yameen at court. Yameen was unable to prove that Adeeb had in fact, given him assess to the laundered funds.
The High Court on Thursday upheld the Criminal Court’s conviction, after stating that Yameen was found guilty in accordance to the laws linked to money laundering.
Yameen’s team had noted 75 points in seeking the appeal.
The ex-president stated that documents do not prove that the funds deposited to his accounts were in fact the acquisition cost for Vodamulaa island in Gaaf Alif atoll. He also pointed out the fact that no other individuals had testified at court that Yameen had conducted transactions to acquire the Vodamulaa acquisition cost, except for Managing Director of MMPRC Abdulla Ziyath.
As Ziyath is suspected of being involved in the MMPRC embezzlement scandal, Yameen asserts that his testimony cannot be accepted. The defendant sought from the High Court bench to overrule Criminal Court’s jail sentence against Yameen, which the presiding bench brushed off after claiming that the defense points “did not make any sense”.
In this regard the presiding judges advised Yameen to produce well-assembled and organized points of defense to courts.
Presiding Judge Hussain Mazeed stated that the defendants are required to prove if they claim any legal misconducts obstructions to their rights and justice.
The presiding judge stated that the first element as well as the second, of the charges against him, had been proven.
While Yameen was instructed to transfer the funds to an escrow account established by ACC during the investigation, it was later revealed that the funds transferred to the account had been obtained through an additional party and were not the funds in Yameen’s account.
Yameen is also being tried for fresh new charges linked to the leasing of Fuggiri island in Raa atoll for resort development, also through MMPRC.