Maldives police again summon ex-pres over 'campaign cash' probe

Police have again summoned former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom for questioning over the alleged hard cash he received ahead of the presidential elections in September which he lost to the opposition alliance.

The embattled former president have been summoned for questioning at 1.30pm on Sunday with his party calling on its supporters to gather outside the police headquarters in protest.

In a statement after Yameen was summoned and questioned last month, police had said millions had been deposited and circulated from the now frozen accounts during his term in office.

Police added that the funds frozen for the investigation amount to over MVR100 million.

President Yameen had revealed that police had questioned him over the alleged hard cash he received ahead of the presidential elections in September and the USD 1 million deposited into his personal bank account linked to the biggest corruption scandal in the country's history.

However, he insisted that police had only questioned him over the investigation but had not specified whether he was accused of any wrongdoing.

"I told them [police] that the cash was deposited into my campaign account which had been declared as per the election laws," Yameen explained.

"And the USD1 million deposited to my account has already been investigated by ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] and I told them they can get the details from ACC."

The official audit report into the Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) scandal, had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company called SOF Private Limited with strong links to the now jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

Shortly after the scandal was uncovered, USD1 million was deposited by SOF to Yameen's personal account at the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB).

It was initially believed that the police were looking to question Yameen over the alleged USD1.5 million he received for the elections.

Al Jazeera cited a confidential letter sent the country's anti-money laundering body to the police saying the then 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.

Yameen had also denied allegations of financial fraud but stopped short of labeling the investigation as politically motivated.

However, the figure cited by the police in the statement was substantially more than the former president had admitted to reporters.

"There won't be millions in those accounts. If I recall correctly there will be around MVR20 million. I don't think anyone can say that it is a significant amount for a presidential campaign. Because a presidential campaign costs a lot more. Even the police couldn't say that there was anything illegal in those funds," Yameen had said.