The government on Thursday proposed a total of eight witnesses including former vice president Ahmed Adheeb and Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)’s President Hassan Luthfee to testify against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom in the state’s money laundering charges.
Other witnesses put forth by the state include former Minister of Tourism Moosa Zameer, ACC Vice President Muawiz Rasheed and former Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) Abdulla Ziyath. The remaining witnesses are two board members of Bank of Maldives (BML) and an additional individual who purchased a plot of land in Hulhumale’ from Zameer for USD 2 million.
Money laundering charges were made against the former president over USD 1 million deposited into his account at Maldives Islamic Bank by SOF Pvt Ltd. The charges also included Yameen depositing another sum of money into the escrow account jointly managed by himself and ACC, instead of the funds transferred by SOF.
According to the state, Adheeb was presented as a witness in order to prove that donations received by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) during his tenure as Tourism Minister and PPM’s vice president were minor and credited in Rufiyaa. The former VP’s testimony is also intended to establish that the funds deposited in Yameen’s account had no legitimate source.
ACC’s president and vice president will go on record regarding dealings between the former president and the corruption watchdog concerning the escrow account. Two BML board members were also noted regarding the escrow account.
MMPRC’s former MD Ziyath was presented as a witness to verify that Yameen was directly involved in discussions to lease the islands released under the corruption scandal.
Yameen’s lawyer Abdulla Shiyaz stated that it was unclear which of the three transactions mentioned by the state carried the charge for money laundering and noted that it was uncertain. He added that it was unclear which charge the money deposited in Yameen’s accounts constituted.
Additionally, Shiyaz asserted the existence of certain impediments to conducting trials for the aforementioned charges and that he would present his concerns prior to the commencement of legal proceedings.
In response, the state asserted that all three transactions were included under the charge of money laundering. Referencing the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act, the government stated that concealing any sum of money attained through criminal means or suspected to be received via such methods was defined as money laundering.
Upon this statement, Yameen rose from his seat, asserting that the money deposited in his account belonged to SOF and not MMPRC.
The former president’s lawyer said that the state failed to clarify which criminal offence the cash deposit constituted and requested that the matter be clarified. Criminal Courts’ Chief Justice Ahmed Hailam also directed the same question to the state.
In reply, the state explained that the money deposited in Yameen’s accounts were suspectly attained through corrupt means and highlighted that other cases related to MMPRC’s corruption scandal were ongoing.
During the hearing, the state also requested acceptance of two additional witnesses which includes a SOF employee.
Responding to Judge Hailam’s question why the two witnesses were not presented earlier, the state explained that their statements were only collected by the police after the charges against Yameen were formally filed. The presiding judge stated that the witnesses would only be accepted after both parties received a chance to present their arguments.
The state also presented documentary evidence consisting of bank statements, cheques and statements collected from former president Yameen by the police and ACC.
The government requested the issuance of a court order to protect the confidentiality of the bank statements, cheque copies and receipts, elaborating that the documents contained personal information which could be protected under the Criminal Procedure Code.
The court agreed to issue an order to maintain confidentiality for the bank statements. However, Judge Hailam stated that the defendants had the right to know the identities of the individuals who deposited the cheques.
The hearing concluded with the court presenting a chance to both parties to submit documents or evidence that needed to presented prior to the trial.
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