The government has denied unfairly targeting Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests after the tax authority froze the bank accounts of his Villa Shipping and Trading Company.
Three ministers met the press at the president’s office to defend the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority on Wednesday, stressing that MIRA is an independent institution whose enforcement actions are taken after due process and without any government interference.
“MIRA has always been collecting income owed to the government from properties that are leased under an agreement and taking the necessary action if the money is not paid,” said Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer.
Ahmed Zuhoor, the president’s office minister and chair of the economic and youth council, said the current administration does not discriminate in reclaiming islands that businesses have failed to develop after they were leased.
If he believes MIRA’s actions are illegal or unfair, Gasim has the right to file cases with the police or the courts, Zuhoor said.
Villa’s accounts were frozen over US$18.6 million allegedly owed as fines and unpaid rent for the island of Elaa in Thaa atoll. The move came shortly after the high court overturned a civil court ruling in favour of Villa over the tourism ministry’s termination of the lease agreement for the island.
Villa has since appealed the high court decision and challenged the legality of MIRA’s action at the civil court.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent