'No grounds to convict me; have done no wrong' : Ex-pres Yameen

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom has stated that there is no basis on which he can be convicted on the money laundering charges raised against him.

President Yameen is accused of defying the agreement between himself and the Anti-Corruption Commission, 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.

Speaking at a ceremony held Wednesday night to welcome new members joining Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), President Yameen acknowledged that his supporters were concerned that he may be jailed over the charges. He requested the members not to worry about the trial.

The former president said he possessed US$ one million even before he became president, and that there was no need for him to touch any money in the state treasury.

President Yameen said charges can be raised through influencing state entities when in power. Alleging that the money laundering charge against him were wrongfully raised and false, Yameen said there is no room to convict him if a fair trial is conducted.

"If a fair trial is conducted, I am untouchable. It is impossible. Yes, you can convict me. You can conduct trials. But anyone of sound mind and anyone who loves fairness and justice will not believe that someone against whom not a single finger was pointed in the last five years would do something like that for a mere 19000 dollars," the former president said.

"My soul and spirit will be embarrassed to commit such an act. I am wealthier [than have to resort to such an act]. I want to continue to serve the citizens even more", he said.

President Yameen accused that the government was attempting to influence his trial. He said the Chief of Staff of the President's Office Ali Zahir had admitted that he called up judges.

"I have not heard before of ministers threatening witnesses to give their testimony in a trial in a certain way. These acts are being done by members of the religiously conservative party [Adhaalath Party] members", said Yameen.

President Yameen further said while no accusations were made against him during his five year term, fingers are already being pointed at President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih one year into his term. The current government does not have the capability to clear their name from the accusations, said Yameen.