The high court has overturned a lower court ruling in favour of Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Shipping and Trading conglomerate over the government’s seizure of the island of Elaa in Thaa atoll.
In contrast to the civil court ruling in January last year, the appellate court held that the tourism ministry’s termination of the lease agreement was lawful.
Tuesday’s decision was the latest in a series of rulings that have overturned lower court judgments in favour of Villa after Gasim backed former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s decision to withdraw support for the government in late October.
Gasim had predicted that the high court would rule against Villa in a rare political speech on Sunday. “It looks like a big wave is building, looks like they are going to freeze all the accounts of Villa Shipping company again,” he said.
After the JP formed an alliance with the Maldivian Democratic Party in early 2015, the tourism ministry seized five properties leased to Villa for resort development – including Elaa, two other islands, and two lagoons – and the tax authority sought US$90.4 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent