Governance Legal Tourism

Villa resorts fear for services in wake of shocking raids

customs and police raid paradise island resort

The police and customs investigation team leaving Paradise Island Resort after its second attempt at raiding resorts owned by Villa Company on January 19, 2018. PHOTO / MIHAARU

Maldives Police Service and Maldives Customs Services commenced an unsuccessful raid on four resorts operated by Jumhoory Party (JP)’s leader Qasim Ibrahim’s Villa Company for the second time late Thursday night.

A team of five customs officials and two police officers had gone to Paradise Island Resort at night and searched the resort’s bar and coffee shop, while guests were still in the area.

The same night, police and Customs officials had also searched Sun Island Resort, while police officers and officials from the tax regulatory body Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) had searched Villa Company’s Fun Island and Holiday Island.

The management of the resorts was not informed why the MIRA officials were with the investigation team.

Mihaaru is aware that the resorts were raided on Thursday night in order to confiscate the alcoholic beverages and all pork products on the islands, which are estimated to cost thousands of dollars.

The police and Customs had left the island by midnight without seizing anything; however, an opposition lawyer Safa Shareef told the media that Qasim’s lawyers are aware that the police and Customs’ legal teams were working to finding a way to physically remove these items from the opposition leaders’ resorts.

Investigation officers checking Sun Island Resort's stores --

Investigation officers checking Sun Island Resort’s stores

The raids, which began on Wednesday night, were commenced under a warrant for the purpose of gathering evidence for a claim that alleges that the alcoholic beverages, which were released by a customs’ bonded warehouse under the name of Royal Island’s management, had been illegally taken to other resorts.

Under the warrant, the customs have been authorised to inspect the resorts’ documents pertaining to the case as well as the physical stock of alcohol and pork products, computerized systems that monitor the stocks, as well as storage devices and other related equipment.

The management of the resorts was shocked that the police and customs authorities continued the raid – they insist that they have handed over all the necessary documents relevant to the investigation and that they have been complying with the two institutes’ demands.

Moreover, they were disheartened by the fact that the police had searched the premises that the guests were lounging in. The management said that many guests were alarmed by the presence of police at the resort, especially considering that it was late at night when the raid was conducted.

An official from Paradise Island Resort said that there are about 600 guests on all-inclusive packages, which includes fine wine and cocktails. He had expressed concern over the potential seizure of alcohol and pork from the resorts, as this could directly affect the services provided by the resort.

Meanwhile, Sun Island Resort reported that its occupancy is at 100 percent and that 30 percent of the guests are on similar all-inclusive packages. The resorts’ management had also expressed concern about how such unprecedented police raids, in the presence of guests, could affect Maldives’ tourism industry.

With the exception of Holiday Island Resort, all of Qasim’s resorts were searched by the police, customs, and MIRA on Wednesday and Thursday night.

Full details are available at the link below:

Source URL: Mihaaru-News

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