Legal Politics

Customs reissue alcohol, pork to Villa resorts while Qasim cries bankruptcy plot


Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim. PHOTO: Nishan Ali/Mihaaru

Maldives Customs Service have restarted issuing alcohol and pork products to the resorts operated under Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group.

The commissioner general of Customs, Ibrahim Shareef, told Mihaaru that they are currently following the temporary permit granted by the government on Monday to issue alcohol and pork to Villa resorts again.

The government has granted a week’s time for Villa resorts to import alcohol and pork after withholding the import license of Royal Island Resort on January 21. The government has been withholding the permits of Holiday Island Resort, Paradise Island Resort, Sun Island Resort and Fun Island Resort since March 2017.

The state had decided to withhold their permits last March after Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) accused Villa Shipping and Trading Company, which operates four of Villa’s resorts, of failing to pay required taxes. The permit of Royal Island Resort was held this Sunday after its operator Island Trade and Travel Pvt Ltd was accused of illegally transferring alcohol and pork to the other resorts. In the meantime, MIRA has also announced that the Villa resorts had failed to pay taxes for the last 10 months, amounting to USD 5.1 million.

The tourism ministry stated that they issued Villa a temporary permit since the resorts currently have guests. The ministry noted that the tourism industry is the biggest and most profitable one for the economy, and they do not want to jeopardize it.

“Plot to bankrupt”

Villa officials and Qasim have been insisting that Villa had not done anything illegal. In a letter sent to the employees of Villa, Qasim accused the government of orchestrating a plot to bankrupt him. He stated that this government does not want him to continue the things he has been doing for the development of the Maldives and its people.

Qasim denied all accusations of illegal doings in the letter, stating that he has and will always abide by the rules. He went on to say that Villa has always paid whatever taxes that need to be paid. He accused the state of violating the agreements that had been previously made, adding that they have filed cases at court for justice.

“Right now, our biggest strength is the honesty and steadfastness of our employees,” said Qasim praising his staff. He said that the reason Villa has progressed so much is due to the employees, and that he will always do everything within his capacity to make things better for them as well as their families.

Qasim, who is hopeful for candidacy from the joint opposition in the presidential elections this year, said that he is not in politics for any personal agendas and that he only wants to serve the people of the Maldives with his experience.

The state and Villa Group continue to exchange fire, as investigations continue regarding the matter.

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Source URL: Mihaaru-News

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