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Maldives ex-president Yameen held for money laundering trial | News

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A court in the Maldives has ordered the country’s former President Abdulla Yameen be held in state custody until the end of a trial on money laundering charges, according to local media.

At a criminal court hearing on Monday, prosecutors alleged the former president, who lost an election in September, tried to bribe a witness in the prosecution’s case to change their testimony, reported the news websites Mihaaru and Avas. 

Yameen was taken to a remand centre on Maafushi, an island near the Maldives’ capital, Male, a police spokesperson said. 

The 59-year-old was charged with money laundering last week over claims he received $1m, stolen from state coffers in the country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal. 

Police say a private company that laundered more than $79m in tourism revenues deposited the money to Yameen’s private account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.

The case was the subject of an Al Jazeera investigation in 2016. 

The former president refused to return the money despite an order by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, and instead “conducted financial transactions from which he obtained profit”, the police said in a statement earlier this month. 

Lawyers for Yameen previously dismissed the charges as an attempt to influence the Maldives’s upcoming parliamentary elections, set to take place on April 6.

The Anti-Corruption Commission “has so far failed to prove the $1m transferred to Yameen’s account by SOF Pvt Ltd was state funds obtained through corruption”, the lawyers contended in a statement earlier this month.

Yameen told reporters in January that the one million dollars deposited to his private account was given to him by “various parties as campaign funds”. The money was his, he added, saying he did not return the amount because there was no proof it was government money. 

Police have also sought charges of false testimony against Yameen and his top legal counsel.

The former president is also under investigation in a separate money-laundering case, in which he is alleged to have received 22 million rufiyaas ($1.5m) in cash days before the presidential election in September 2018.

In December, the police said authorities froze Yameen’s bank accounts and seized more than 100 million rufiyaas ($6m) in US dollars and local currency.

Additional reporting by Hassan Moosa from Male.






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