State: Yameen invested the money deposited to his account which laws prohibit a president from doing so

Former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom speaks at a hearing held at Supreme Court on September 23, 2021.

The State has said that when USD 1 million was deposited to former President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s bank account from SOF Company Private Limited – he had invested the money, and had made a profit out of it, which is against the law.

Yameen was found guilty of laundering USD 1 million from the sale of GA. Vodamula by the Criminal Court on November 28, 2019. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined USD 5 million. Yameen promptly appealed the conviction with the High Court, which sided against him and ruled to uphold the original sentence on January 21, 2021.

He subsequently appealed the conviction with the Supreme Court – and the State had made the remarks during a hearing of the appeal case held this morning, where they had been given the chance to respond to the points noted from Yameen’s side on his appeal.

The Public Prosecutor who spoke at the hearing said that the law prohibits an individual in the post of the country’s president to engage in a business or do any other work to generate a profit.

Despite this, when Yameen was in office – USD 1 million was deposited to his bank account at Maldives Islamic Bank by SOF in total, in two transfers of USD 500,000.

“When the money was deposited, Yameen had invested the money for a period of 36-months,” the Public Prosecutor added.

The Public Prosecutor further stated that this money had not vanished to thin air – adding that starting from March 14, 2017, the money had been invested.

An agreement was made between Yameen and the Anti-Corruption Commission on March 25, 2018, to keep the aforesaid money in an escrow account.

“Article 119 (a) of the Constitution clearly stated that the President and the Vice President shall do any other work for the purpose of generating a profit,” the Public Prosecutor had said.

Speaking further – the Public Prosecutor noted that Yameen had previously stated that the said money was given to him by Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who was in office back then. The Public Prosecutor had responded to this by stating that the law prohibits an individual in either of those posts to carry out any work to earn a profit.

“This is very clearly prohibited in the Maldivian constitution,” the Public Prosecutor stressed.

The Public Prosecutor also detailed that the law stipulates the ways in which political parties may obtain funds – noting that Yameen has previously stated that private individuals and well-wishers had provided financial assistance to run his party.

In this regard, the Public Prosecutor said that political parties must keep record of the funds received – adding that if funds are received from well-wishers who wishes not to be identified, this must still be disclosed to the Elections Commission. The Public Prosecutor further said that Yameen’s party had not disclosed this information.

Today’s hearing which began at 9:00 in the morning – was concluded at 12:00 in the noon. Moreover, a 15-minute break was also given within these two hours. Although hearings lasted for lengthy hours prior to this, the hearings hours have been cut down – upon the request by Yameen to shorten hearings, citing difficulty in sitting down for long periods of time due to issues with his back.

At the next hearing, the prosecution will finish responding to the case – following which Yameen’s side will address their response. Afterwards, the bench will question both parties on any matters they wish to clarify further.

Yameen was serving his sentence in Maafushi Prison but was transferred to home confinement following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the prison in April.

He was recently reprimanded by Maldives Correctional Service for violating the terms of his home confinement by taking part in a rally staged by the opposition.