Several bottles of alcohol were seized from Fun Island Resort late Saturday by Maldives Customs Service, claiming that stocks from Royal Island Resort were transferred to the former illegally.
Maldives Police Service, Maldives Customs Services and the tax regulatory body Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) have been raiding resorts operated by opposition Jumhoory Party’s (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa company since Thursday night.
General manager of Villa Hotels and Resorts, Gaisar Naseem, had said that although they had taken away several bottles of alcohol, it was not done legally. He said that they would comply with everything that fell within the law.
Since the first warrant expired, a second warrant had been issued by the Criminal Court’s judge Ali Adam, granting them five days to search the resorts. The warrant gave permission for Customs to check documents related to the resorts’ alcohol and pork stocks, and the computer systems that manage the stocks. None of the permits appeared to have granted permission to remove any of the goods from the resorts.
In an interview to Mihaaru, Gaisar stated that they did not understand why the alcohol should have been seized. He insisted that all the transferring had been done legally and that they had paid all the required taxes. Gaisar claimed that the Customs officers who came to Sun Island had said that the alcohol and pork could be taken from one resort to the other.
Since the state had taken action against Villa Shipping in March 2017, permits to import alcohol had been cancelled for all the resorts of Villa apart from Royal Island Resort, which is under Island Travels and Trade company; thus action was not taken against Royal. Hence, the goods imported to Royal Island had been distributed to the other resorts of Villa. Gaisar said that they had been doing this since last year and all the required legal steps were followed.
Customs stated that they took action against Villa Shipping under MIRA’s enforcement policy as they had failed to pay the required taxes. They also asserted that since pork and alcohol are imported under strict polices that require them to be sold at a specific location, it is illegal to transfer it to other places and sell.
Fun Island Resort’s manager Ismail Naseer said that it is not yet clear how many bottles of alcohol Customs had seized. He said that the officers came with a warrant to check the stocks, but had subsequently loaded a boat with several bottles from their out storage. Ismail declared that they would not cooperate with taking away goods from the resorts. He also noted that the officers had not answered any of the questions asked by their legal team.
The staff of Fun Island had protested while officers were conducting the raid, raising concerns over their employment. The residents of Alif Dhaal atoll Maamigili island, Gasim’s former constituency, also protested against the raids on Saturday, while members of the opposition held similar demonstrations in the capital, Male.
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Source URL: Mihaaru-News