The High Court Court has ordered Sea Life Global's Managing Director, Ahmed 'Ammaty' Moosa to be re-arrested.
Ammaty was arrested earlier in February in neighboring Sri Lanka where he was on the run for over two years after defrauding a large number of people out of millions by stealing the booking fees paid for a proposed apartment complex in Hulhumale. A red notice to locate Ammaty was issued in 2019 by Interpol after he went on the run. He was extradited to the Maldives in March following his arrest. The state has raised 42 charges against him, and cases against Ammaty were filed at the Criminal Court on May 30.
In a hearing held on June 17 at the Criminal Court, the State requested the court to detain Ammaty until the trial is concluded. The state said Ammaty had failed to attend court in the past and noted that there was enough evidence to prove that he is a flight risk. There is also the possibility that he may influence witnesses, the state had said. While nine employees of Sea Life Global are being presented as witnesses, five of them closely witnessed the events that took place, said the State. As these individuals have close relations with Ammaty, any influence that may be exerted by Ammaty on these individuals could obstruct the case, argued the state. However, the presiding judge made the decision to release Ammaty if certain conditions are met, noting that the case did not require Ammaty's detention. The judge ordered him not to leave Male' City or leave the country pending the outcome of the trial.
In a hearing held Sunday at the High Court, the State argued that Ammaty could still exert influence on witnesses and that he still remained a flight risk. The State further said he was a danger to society.
High Court Judge Hussain Shaheed noted that the State's witnesses against Ammaty were his former employees. While there is no evidence that he has previously influenced witnesses and as the State could not prove otherwise, he does not believe Ammaty would exert influence on the witnesses, said the Judge. He also disagreed with the argument that Ammaty was a risk to society.
Judge Fathmath Farheeza also agreed with Judge Shaheed's view. However, she agreed with the State's argument that Ammaty was a flight risk, noting that he had evaded authorities for a long period of time in a foreign country, and only returned to the Maldives after he was deported back to the country when his passport expired. Although it is claimed that he cooperated with the investigation, the police have repeatedly asked for court orders to detain Ammaty, noted Farheena. Therefore, while Ammaty had resided abroad illegally and although his passport is currently on hold, there is still a chance that he may illegally leave the country, said the judge, recommending to nullify the Criminal Court's order to release him. Farheena's view was supported by Judge Hathif Hilmy.
Sea Life Global Private Limited announced and advertised luxury apartments in reclaimed suburbs Hulhumale’, and took booking payments from interested buyers in 2013. In the initial phase of the project, Sea Life Global took a booking fee of MVR 50,000 from 280 interested buyers, for the projected 300 apartments in the building. This adds up to approximately MVR 14 million.
However, the apartment building was never constructed, and refunds were not issued to the buyers. Complaints were filed with the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission seeking refunds and on suspicions that illicit activities were conducted during the implementation of the project. Cases were filed against Sea Life Global, Housing Development Corporation (HDC), and the Economic Ministry at the Civil court over the Sea Life Global Complex, due to failure to return the booking fees taken from the buyers.