Ex-pres' money laundering trial: Sole defense witness backs out

Criminal Court has started the fifth hearing in former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's money laundering trial on Wednesday morning.

During the last hearings, the state's witnesses gave their testimony against the former president. While one witness named by the state, the former president of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Hassan Luthufee has refused to testify against Yameen, the statements of the remaining witnesses have been recorded in court.

However, the state has requested the presiding judge to allow a video statement given by Luthufee to the police during investigation to be played back in court. The judge has made the decision to allow the video to be played in court.

While the defense's sole witness, former governor Azeema Adam was scheduled to testify during Wednesday's hearing, in a recent development, Azeema has informed the court that she does not have a statement to give in court. As Azmeema has noted that she has no testimony give, the court will not be summoning her to give her statement.

President Yameen is accused of defying the agreement between himself and ACC, which stipulated the former president to move funds in his Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) account that are suspected of having being laundered, into an escrow account set up between the two parties.

While two cheques worth US$ 1 million were deposited into Yameen's MIB account by a private company named SOF Pvt Ltd, the funds are said to be embezzled state funds that were to be received by Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company as acquisition cost for leasing islands for tourism purpose.

ACC instructed Yameen to move the deposited funds to the escrow account, however, President Yameen transferred US$ 1 million from his Bank of Maldives (BML) account instead of from the account in question. The transferred funds are reported to have been deposited into President Yameen's BML account by former Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer.

Yameen is accused of attempting to cover up the source and trail of the original funds in his MIB account in an attempt to launder the funds. The original funds deposited by SOF Pvt Ltd were moved to President Yameen's investment account at Maldives Islamic Bank. If the money laundering charge against Yameen is proven, he will receive a sentence of 5-15 years in prison.