Maldives Monetary Authority

"Astonishing" SOF transactions: MMA silent?

  • MMA received continuous reports end of 2014
  • US$ 299.87 in SOF accounts
  • No statement from MMA

Disturbing reports has revealed that Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) had failed to act when the agency was alerted over the money laundering scheme run by Scores of Flair (SOF), one of the companies involved in the MMPRC embezzlement of MVR 1.5 billion.

It has been confirmed to Avas that the commercial banks in question had alerted the Central Bank back in 2014 over the large transfers of cash to and from the account opened under SOF. The publicized account statements of SOF show that when the account was opened in 2014, the company had initially deposited US$ 800,000. Afterward, amounts between US$ 2-4 million had been deposited into the account. Some transactions saw cheque deposits of US$ 2 million or US$ 3 million, while regular transfers were carried out in the process.

As the largest sums of money was deposited via cheques, the account statements had not been made public. But, it has been confirmed to Avas by a reliable source that cash from SOF account was transferred to the personal accounts of some Cabinet Ministers and Parliament Members as well as Ministry accounts. Biggest deposits came from MMPRC after the lease of islands and lagoons.

Summary of SOF account

  • Account opened in early 2014
  • Millions deposited to eight individual accounts
  • US$ 84 million was circulated
  • US$ 4 million in account as balance
  • Foreign currency sold below market rate

It has been confirmed to Avas that the banks had informed MMA's Financial Intelligence Unit over the suspicious transactions, as mandated by the Act on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing. The banks had also contacted MMA every time a large denomination cheque was cleared. It had also been confirmed that MMA gave no instructions to the banks regarding the issue. Banks can only take action against their customers if MMA authorizes said actions.

Details of cheques to SOF

A media official at MMA said that it was difficult to comment on the issue without confirming if they had received such information. MMA said that they will issue a formal comment later on.

At the time the banks had reported the financial irregularity, MMA Financial Intelligence Unit Athif Shakoor had resigned his position. Neither Athif nor MMA had issued a comment on his resignation, with Athif refusing to even comment on the resignation. MMA had previously said that they were investigating the MMPRC embezzlement with assistance from foreign parties and that the investigation was ongoing.

SOF account now shows a paltry US$ 270, left after transferring around US$ 300,000 to various accounts just prior to the arrest of the former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.