Sealife victims want justice despite payout

The victims of the 'SeaLife scandal' has stated that the government's decision to compensate the victims should not be an obstruction to bringing the perpetrators in front of justice.

Sealife Global announced its 3,000-apartment housing project, the SeaLife Complex in Hulhumale’ in 2015. In the initial phase of the project, Sea Life Global took a booking fee of MVR 50,000 from 280 interested buyers, for the projected 300 apartments in the building, which adds up to approximately MVR 14 million. However, work on the project was never started and the company did not reimburse the individuals their down payments. A lawsuit was filed subsequently filed against Sealife Global and HDC by the victims.

When investigation into SeaLife was launched, Managing Director of the company Ahmed 'Ammaty' Moosa fled to Sri Lanka and went into hiding. A red notice to locate Ammaty was then issued by the Interpol.

HDC and Economic Ministry then intervened in the case and reached an out of court settlement to compensate the 200+ victims of the scam. However, many have criticized the move, accusing that the government made a 'deal' with a party that scammed so many citizens and allowed them to 'get way with it'.

In a statement released by the victims over the issue, they said while HDC and the government had worked jointly to get justice for the victims, the spread of false information has caused confusion over what had really happened.

The statement said both HDC and the former government had been negligent as such a huge project was contracted to a company that did not have the financial capability to take on such a project. While both HDC and the government can agree on this, HDC agreed to reimburse the booking fees and advance payments paid by the victims of the scandal from the advance payment paid to HDC by SeaLife.

While the move has provided a solution to the civil case filed at the Civil Court, the criminal investigation launched into those involved in the case has not ceased, read the statement. Although the civil case to get back the money paid by the victims has been concluded, criminal charges against the company will still be pursued, the statement read further.

'The victims wish to bring the perpetrators in front of justice and make them accountable for their actions', it read.

While HDC has agreed to provide compensation for the victims, the presidential commission on asset recovery has asked for the compensation process to be halted temporarily. Asset Commission's reason for halting the victims from being reimbursed is due to ongoing investigations into Sealife Global by Asset Commission as well as the Anti Corruption Authority (ACC). The complaints against Sea Life Global were filed at the two investigative bodies by the same buyers who incurred losses from Sealife Global.

In their statement, the victims of the scandal expressed concern on the matter.

Back in 2008 during the rule of former president Mohamed Nasheed, a project to construct 80 housing units was contracted to SeaLife. However, the company failed to construct the housing units, and the agreement between the company and the government was terminated in 2011. The company has claimed that the government did not pay them US$ 12 million under a settlement agreement between the two parties.