Maldives govt refutes Al-Jazeera report over 'campaign cash'

Maldives government on Tuesday moved quickly to refute a report published by Al Jazeera accusing outgoing president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom of receiving USD1.5m in hard currency days ahead of the recently concluded presidential election which he lost to the opposition alliance.

Al Jazeera cited a confidential letter sent the country's anti-money laundering body to the police saying the president received the money in two installments to a private bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB).

The document from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an agency under the Maldives' central bank, was dated September 13 and was addressed to the then acting police commissioner Abdulla Nawaz.

In the letter, the FIU said a third party deposited USD648,508 in hard currency into the president's account on September 5. Another USD810,635 was deposited to the same account on September 10.

The whole amount was later withdrawn in hard currency, Al Jazeera said referring to the letter.

According to Al Jazeera, the letter suggested the transactions were in breach of the Maldives' election laws, which obligates candidates to set up separate accounts for campaign activities as well as declare the identities of donors.

In response to the report, President's Office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali on Twitter insisted that president Yameen had set up a separate account for his presidential campaign and all donations and funds had been duly deposited and disbursed through the account.

"President Yameen assures the people that his campaign had been conducted in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations," Muaz added.

Al Jazeera's report came days after AVAS learned that the FIU had requested the police to investigate money laundering allegations against president Yameen.

However, AVAS has been unable to confirm whether the two reports were related as the police and the government were not immediately available for comment.

The report also came a day after president Yameen appointed a new police chief and transferred Nawaz to the environment ministry.

The contentious shuffle came days after Nawaz had assured the president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the complete backing of the police.

Hamdhoon's appointment as the new police chief comes in the wake of reports that the central bank had launched an investigation into president Yameen's involvement in a money laundering scam.

Elections Commission on Sunday announced the official results which confirmed opposition alliance presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the seventh president of the archipelago with a staggering 58.4 percent of the votes.

Solih had been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.