High Court orders SeaLife MD's rearrest

The High Court has nullified the Criminal Court order releasing SeaLife Global's Managing Director, Ahmed 'Ammaty' Moosa, and ordered his rearrest.

In October, the Criminal Court released Ahmed Moosa, who was in detention pending the outcome of his trial for defrauding his customers out of millions. He was released on bail after his two sisters, Mariyam Naeema and Afeefa Moosa, offered to be guarantors to ensure that he attends hearings. The Criminal Court released him on bail on the condition that he checks in at the police headquarters at 9:00 am every day. The court also said he is forbidden from communicating with any witnesses presented by the State and that he cannot leave Male' City without the court's permission.

The State has always emphasized that Ahmed Moosa is a flight risk, with a history of such actions. Although the law allows those on trial to be released on bail, the case on hand and its history continue to assert that he is a flight risk, the State had said when appealing his release.

In the High Court's ruling, Judge Mohamed Niyaz said although Ahmed Moosa is not allowed to leave Male' City, his passport not being withheld still poses a flight risk. The Judge also pointed out that Ahmed Moosa did not return to the Maldives despite the Interpol issuing a red notice to locate him.

The Judge also said if there are any possibilities of Ahmed Moosa fleeing the country despite withholding his passport, the State must share the possibilities with relevant authorities and close any such windows for escape.

Further noting that although Ahmed Moosa did not extort his victims by physically hurting them, the Judge said his deceit had caused a lot of pain and heartache to his victims. Due to the circumstance of his case, he cannot be released on bail, the Judge said.

Out of three judges on the bench, Judge Abdulla Hameed supported Judge Niyaz's opinion. However, Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya differed in his opinion and said although Ahmed Moosa is accused of a serious crime, he is still eligible to be released on bail. Although the State has said Ahmed Moosa evaded authorities, he noted that Ahmed Moosa has cooperated with authorities since his return to the Maldives.

Ahmed Moosa was arrested in February in neighboring Sri Lanka, where he was on the run for over two years after defrauding many people out of millions by stealing the booking fees paid for a proposed apartment complex in Hulhumale. A red notice to locate Ahmed Moosa was issued in 2019 by Interpol after he went on the run, and he was extradited to the Maldives in March following his arrest. The State has raised 42 charges against him, and cases against Ahmed Moosa were filed at the Criminal Court on May 30.

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 project's initial phase, 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.