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Gasim’s Villa laying off staff

Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group conglomerate is laying off staff due to financial constraints, Mihaaru has reported.

“We’re reducing staff from various places. But we assure that no common employee will be dismissed from any resort operated by Villa. Even if we dismiss some senior staff, we won’t fire any staff like room boys or waiters,” Simad Ibrahim, executive director of finance, told the newspaper.

On Sunday, some 15 employees were let go from Vmedia, including all of the staff from the group’s radio station. Gasim’s Vmedia, which operates a TV station and news website, has also ceased publishing its magazine.

Of the 4,000 workers employed by Villa, some 2,800 are reportedly Maldivian, including nearly all employees at senior management level.

Ahead of an opposition bid to oust the parliament’s speaker in late March, the tax authority froze the bank accounts of Villa Shipping and Trading over millions of dollars allegedly owed as fines and unpaid rent.

The holding company operates businesses in shipping, import and export, retail, tourism, fishing, media, communications, transport and education.

Gasim was meanwhile sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for attempted bribery in late August. He was later granted medical leave for cardiovascular treatment and travelled to Singapore in September.

The business tycoon travelled to Germany under a special visa last week after the prisons authority refused to extend the furlough.

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