Received US$ 5 mln as political donations, reveals ex-pres

Jailed former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom Wednesday said he received over US$ 5 million as political donations. The former president made the revelation at an appeal hearing over his money laundering conviction that sentenced him to five years in jail in 2019.

Former President Yameen was 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 been laundered, into an escrow account set up between the two parties. Failing to do so, and moving the funds of US$ one million in question into an investment account, the former president deposited funds from another source into the escrow account.

The Criminal Court sentenced the former president to five years in jail and ordered him to pay US$ five million to the state after being found guilty of money laundering on November 28 last year. The high-profile trial was televised live on local channels, and the appeal trial is currently ongoing.

While President Yameen during Wednesday’s hearing revealed he received the US$ 5 million as ‘political donations’, he did not specify who made the donation or how he attained the funds. However, it was previously rumored that he received the funds from Saudi Arabia, and that the funds were collected on his behalf by former fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee and disgraced former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb. The former president confirmed that the funds were indeed collected by the two aides, although he did not reveal the source of funds.

Speaking at the appellate hearing held at the High Court on Wednesday, Yameen said the funds had been with Adeeb even up to the point that an assasination attempt was made on his life by installing explosives on the presidential speedboat in 2018 - an attack believed to have been orchestrated by Adeeb. After the incident, Yameen asked Adeeb to return the money, but he ‘had not asked Adeeb to return any state funds’, said the former president. None of the funds with Adeeb were state funds and are not related to the MMPRC corruption case, asserted Yameen.

During the hearing, Yameen attempted to prove that the original US$ 1 million in question was not related to the leasing of ‘GDh. Vodumula’ island as asserted by the state. According to Yameen, he was not aware that an island by the name existed until it was mentioned during the Criminal Court trial. Yameen said it was Adeeb's close aides that were involved in leasing the island to foreign parties, and the specific island in question was leased to people close to Adeeb. The police are aware of this fact, said Yameen. He questioned how the state had concluded that the one million dollar deposited into his account by SOF Pvt Ltd - the funds that are said to have been misappropriated- was tied to Vodumulaa island.

President Yameen’s financial statements attribute the million dollars as having been received from Adeeb. President Yameen said it was stated as such on the financial statement as “Adeeb continued to state the same'' and because he had no doubts over the source of funds. He was aware that the funds were monies that had to be paid to him by Adeeb, he said. However, he came to an agreement with the Anti Corruption Commission to wire the suspicious funds into an escrow account as an assurance to the public that he had not committed any wrongdoings and to ensure safe access to the funds by the state.