Money laundering trial begins for Maldives ex-pres

Criminal Court on Monday began the trial of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom who is facing charges of money laundering linked to the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the island nation.

The first hearing of the trial began at 1.30pm local time a day after documents of the indictment was handed over to the former president.

The criminal court has already frozen Yameen's local bank account holding MVR100 million (nearly USD6.5 million) which he has appealed.

In addition to Yameen, his top aide and former legal affairs minister Aishath Azima Shakoor has also been charged as an accessory to money laundering.

The much awaited 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).

Yameen has continued to insist that the funds in his account was for his failed presidential campaign last year.

President Yameen further said that he had reached an agreement with the country's graft watchdog on how to transfer the funds, and the funds were deposited accordingly in June last year.