Maldives ex-pres taken into custody over laundering charge

Criminal Court on Monday ordered authorities to keep former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in custody until the end of his money laundering trial.

Yameen appeared in criminal court in the capital Male, on Monday afternoon after the country’s top prosecutor charged him last week with money laundering.

The prosecution asked the court to take Yameen into custody to deny him the chance to influence the evidence against him.

The judge presiding over the trial granted the prosecution's request to detain the former president until the end of the trial.

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.