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Debt-Ridden Govt To Pay USD 250 Mn To GMR Over Termination Of Airport Contract

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Maldives government has been ordered to pay USD 250 million to Indian infrastructural company GMR by a 3-member Singaporean Arbitration Tribunal in its final order over illegal termination of contract to run Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

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The court ordered government to pay USD 208 million in damages with interest which amounted to approximately USD 250 million, Maldives Attorney General Mohamed Anil was quoted as saying by the Sun Online.

“The compensation covers the debt, equity invested in the project along with a return of 17% and also termination payments and legal costs. The compensation is net of taxes that GMIAL may be required to pay in the Maldives,” the company said, according to an Indian newspaper.

Maldivian government under the then President Mohamed Waheed terminated USD 500 million GMR contract on November 27, 2012 alleging legal and national security implications following which the company moved a plea to the international tribunal for award of damages and  loss of reputation due to abrupt termination of the contract.

GMR had won the contract for 25 years through competitive global bidding process and the agreement was signed on June 28, 2010 under ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s government.

Problems for GMR began when it decided to levy USD 27 for Airport Development Charge (ADC) and insurance charge, which was struck down by a civil court. The company had called the decision “unlawful and premature” and said the notice was devoid of any locus standi, as quoted by The Hindu.

The contract to expand and maintain the international airport was then given to Chinese company Beijing Urban Construction Group and which was later awarded to in May this year.
Saudi Arabia, known as one of the closest friend’s of the Maldives, also granted the single largest loan of USD 100 million to the to the expansion of INIA in September this year.
Government is already facing highest deficit at 14.4 per cent, highest deficit since 2010, according to World Bank which warned in May that the Maldives is at risk of external debt distress and public debt could rise from 73 per cent of GDP or USD 693.7 million to 120 per cent of GDP by 2020 owing to large infrastructure projects.

Paradise For Honeymooners, Island Of Broken Marriages; Why Everyone In Maldives Is Getting Divorced?

in Lifestyle by

The Maldives- almost invisible on the world map, often ignored in world statistics for its tiny size in the vast Indian Ocean- has made it to the map, unfortunately for highest divorce rate!

Courtesy: The Telegraph


The Sunni Muslim island with just 3,45,023 population has the divorce rate of 10.97 per year per 1,000 inhabitants followed by Russia at the second spot with less than half the number of divorces as Maldives, according to a report by The Telegraph.

The number makes the Maldives enter the Guinness World Records, and according to United Nations, an average Maldivian woman has been divorced three times by the age of 30.

“The island of a thousand honeymoons. And … a thousand divorces,” writes journalist Shannon Sims calling it ‘the paradise where everyone is divorced’.

The reason, most arguably, points out to Islam, Sharia laws, stigma around sex, and sexuality of a woman.

Divorce- No Taboo!

maldives-marriage
Photo Courtesy: Kurumba

J J Robbinson, the former editor of the Maldives Independent, in his first investigative account of the everyday lives of Maldivians, writes that the country has exploited Islamic sentiments for subordinating women in the country by criminalising pre-marital sex or extramarital sex leading to higher divorce rate. “Tourists on romantic resort getaways blissfully sun themselves on beaches a few hundred feet from ‘local’ islands where Maldivian women are routinely sentenced to 100 lashes for the crime of extramarital sex,” he writes.

He cites observations made by famous Islamic explorer Ibn Battuta where he argues that in the Maldivian culture where people do not fix dowry makes it easier for them to married.

“It is easy to marry in these islands because of the smallness of the dowries and the pleasures of society which the women offer,” Battuta wrote in the 14th century. “Most people do not even fix any dowry. When the ships put in, the crew marry; when they intend to leave, they divorce their wives. This is a kind of temporary marriage (muta). I have seen nowhere in the world women whose society was more pleasant.”

And for getting divorced, a man has to say ‘I divorce you’ three times under the triple talaq Islamic law. Women, though, has to go through a legal process but interestingly there is no stigma around getting divorced, unlike pre-marital sex. “I recall one recently married fisherman boasting that his new wife had been married six times; this, he explained with a sly wink, meant she was experienced. The figure was about average for a woman in her forties,” Robbinson writes.

Patriarchy, Like Everywhere, Rules The Marriage

domestic-violence
Photo Courtesy: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Besides, the religious-cultural nexus to higher divorce rate, the much universal patriarchal mindset and the resulting sexual and domestic violence are also the reasons for the overwhelming trend.

Nearly 33 per cent women in the country are reportedly victims of sexual of physical violence and of them, nearly 20 per cent are perpetrated by their partners, and to most Maldivians it is quite acceptable or even desirable for a husband to beat his wife, or have physical or sexual supremacy.

A 29-year-old, who felt obliged to marry her boyfriend after having sex with him at the age of 15; who later became a victim of his violent nature, says as quoted by Maldives Independent,

Maldives may rank highest in the world for divorces, but at least the ease in getting a divorce ensures women or men do not stay in abusive or unhappy relationships

In December last year, the Maldives had a meltdown when a 35-year-old woman from Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo died after fighting a long battle in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Male. She was brutally raped by her husband.

Her death was followed by marches, social media activism but proved that a little has been changed since the government passed Domestic Violence Prevention Act in 2012.

Polygamy- Men’s Duty To Keep Women On Right Path

divorceIn March this year, during gender equality debate in the People’s Majlis, MP Ahmed Saleem held women responsible for infidelity and suggested that it was a man’s duty to keep them on right path.

Saleem said, ” Women drive men to mental illnesses and crime because of their infidelity. Women are fragile like glass. They can become anything if we do not know how to look after them. The prophet said if a women turns evil, she is worse than a lion… We try to guard them to reform our societies,” he continued giving example of a fellow MP who has three wives, “There is none better than Riyaz Rasheed. Look, he looks after three women to ensure that they do not stray from the right path. This is our duty.”

The PPM dominated 85-member Majlis, where there are just 5 women MPs, threw out the proposal for reserving quotas for women 36 votes that day.

Equal Pay For Equal Work, But Is It Enough?

Later in August, Social Committee of the Parliament passed the gender equality bill prohibiting gender discrimination in employment fields assuring equal pay for equal work but no effort was put in reforming social fabric of the fundamentals of Islamic ruling where death for infidelity, covert abortions to hide the “illegal” out-of-wedlock child & polygamy are rampant.

Former State Minister for Gender and Family, Haala Hameed speculates that more women entering workforce is also one of the reasons for higher divorce- as there is no basic childcare facility and working women are often seen negatively causing tension withing families leading to higher divorce rate.

Gayoom & Nasheed, Together Or Not? PPM Says They Are Not!

in News/Politics by

Mohamed Nasheed took the Maldives and rest of the world by surprise when he, in a high profile Skype interview to the foreign correspondents from London, said that he has got the old rival and ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on board to topple his half- brother Abdulla Yameen.

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But soon, his claims were refuted, directly and indirectly.

Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), which Gayoom heads, denied his claims and accused Nasheed of lying.

“… (Nasheed is) lying to bring President Maumoon into disrepute and to create discord among PPM members,” Abdul Aleem Adam, the PPM’s deputy secretary-general was quoted by Maldives Independent as saying.

And, Gayoom indirectly via a tweet also indicated his party’s claims and called Nasheed a liar, Focus Maldives understands.
Two days after Nasheed’s claims Gayoom said in his tweet that “Truth will be truth even if you say it once. A lie will be a lie even if you repeat it a thousand times.”


Nasheed, who was jailed more than 20 times in Gayoom’s regime for his criticism, said on September 12 that he was in agreement with the ex-strongman alias Gayoom to fight his half-brother and President Yameen.

The first democratically elected President refused to give any further details but expressed hope that they will work together to bring down Yameen in a “legitimate” way.

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“And so the position of the Maldives United Opposition, of which I am a member, is that for democracy to be restored in the Maldives it is essential that President Yameen be removed from power,” he told Colombo-based reporters via Skype from London on Tuesday.

“…He has lost the support of the Maldivian people, security services, international community and his own party. He has even lost the support of his own brother, former president Gayoom,” he was quoted by international news agency Reuters as saying.

Nasheed also claimed that he also was in talks with his faction of the ruling PPM “for a new political alignment” insisting on a “non-military” coup in the archipelago.

Calling “military-coup” illegal, the 49-year-old leader although said that he want security forces to cooperate with him as when the transition through “legal” and “constitutional” means happens.

“The opposition was expecting Gayoom to get a section of his party to withdraw support for Yameen late last month, but for some reason that did not happen,” said one western diplomatic source in Colombo, speaking on condition of anonymity, as quoted by AFP.
“It is not easy for the opposition to organise any agitation inside the country because all their leaders are either in jail or in exile.”

Nasheed is, however, looking to capitalise on the rift between the half-brothers that came out in open over the controversial tourism bill which Gayoom strongly opposed. Not just Yameen’s supporters defied Progressive Party of the Maldives’ leader whip to pass the bill but also rallied against his son Faris Maumoon Gayoom for not supporting the bill in the People’s Majlis.

Former Autocrat Gayoom Joins Democracy Bandwagon, To Work With Nasheed To Remove Half-Brother Yameen

in News/Politics by

History might be created in the Maldives soon. The Indian Ocean archipelago, which is witnessing political turmoil, international condemnation and an expected coup plot, may soon get both the ex-Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed on board against President Abdulla Yameen to counter his “autocratic” government.

gayoom-nasheed


Nasheed, who was jailed more than 20 times in Gayoom’s regime for his criticism, said that he is in agreement with the ex-strongman alias Gayoom to fight his half-brother and President Yameen, Fox News reported.

The first democratically elected President, who is currently in London, refused to give any further details but expressed hope that they will work together to bring down Yameen in a “legitimate” way.

“And so the position of the Maldives United Opposition, of which I am a member, is that for democracy to be restored in the Maldives it is essential that President Yameen be removed from power,” he told Colombo-based reporters via Skype from London on Tuesday.

“…He has lost the support of the Maldivian people, security services, international community and his own party. He has even lost the support of his own brother, former president Gayoom,” he was quoted by international news agency Reuters as saying.

Nasheed also claimed that he also was in talks with his faction of the ruling PPM  “for a new political alignment”  insisting on a “non-military” coup in the archipelago.

Calling “military-coup” illegal, the 49-year-old leader although said that he want security forces to cooperate with him as when the transition through “legal” and “constitutional” means happens.

“The opposition was expecting Gayoom to get a section of his party to withdraw support for Yameen late last month, but for some reason that did not happen,” said one western diplomatic source in Colombo, speaking on condition of anonymity, as quoted by AFP.

nasheed colombo


“It is not easy for the opposition to organise any agitation inside the country because all their leaders are either in jail or in exile.”

Nasheed is, however, looking to capitalise on the rift between the half-brothers that came out in open over the controversial tourism bill which Gayoom strongly opposed. Not just Yameen’s supporters defied Progressive Party of the Maldives’ leader whip to pass the bill but also rallied against his son Faris Maumoon Gayoom for not supporting the bill in the People’s Majlis.

The current government, which is facing overwhelming accusations of corruption, human rights violations and dictatorial approach, has lost many of its cabinet ministers in past one year. While ex-Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was impeached, ex-Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ex-Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim have been jailed on terrorism charges.

Jameel leads the MUO and the other two have their representations in the rainbow coalition formed with the aim to oust Yameen.

Recently, Gayoom’s daughter and ex-Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and his one of the loyal party members and ex-Home Minister Umar Naseer resigned from their posts after heads on with Yameen on several issues.

Colombo Cauldron: Yameen’s Presidency Is Crumbling As MUO Goes After His Corruption & #TheOilLeaks Coming Soon

in News/Politics by

In November 2013, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was elected the president of the Maldives following the alleged “televised coup” of the first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed. Two years and nine months into his rule, politically isolated Yameen now fears ouster by the opposition forces by led the Maldives United Opposition (MUO).

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As the MUO leaders reached Colombo on August 25, speculations over the ‘removal plot’ mounted through a report by BBC- which attributing to its sources- claimed that the “tiny island nation are looking to move against him within weeks.”

MUO’s poster boy and ex-President Nasheed was reportedly present in Colombo to take part in “an important sit-down” to analyse the political situation and strategise on crisis.

Jumping the gun, a government spokesman, whom the news agency did not name, confirmed the attempts of ‘legally’ overthrowing the government with a disclaimer that it would be a “clear breach of international norms.”

“As in every democracy it is the people, via the ballot, who will decide who will next take office,” said the spokesman as quoted by BBC.

And soon, a few loyal leaders of Yameen, spoke candidly about shielding the government from the expected coup d’état.

“We are keeping a close watch on the political landscape. The military and government offices are connected. The army will not allow a transfer of power,” he said in a televised meeting on the state broadcaster TVM two days after arresting four soldiers for allegedly conspiring to overthrow Yameen.

Earlier this month, eight soldiers were also detained on the similar charges, some also had their phone confiscated and are under investigation by MNDF.

COMING SOON! FOCUS MALDIVES’ EXCLUSIVE ON THE $800 MILLION OIL LEAKS

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The MNDF had earlier barred its soldiers from socialising or meeting with politicians, including ministers, and foreigners without permission to prevent feared attempts of toppling the government.

Ruling MP Ahmed Nihan also sending out a clear message to the opposition said, “Even if a gun is held to President Yameen’s head and he is ordered to sign a resignation letter, he will not sign it, even if he falls dead.”

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Yameen’s spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab confirming the political developments as well and alleging a conspiracy with the help of “external forces” which the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) refuted.

But, the party did verify that the opposition leaders were in Colombo to work out strategies to legally topple Yameen, according to AFP.

READ: FOCUS MALDIVES’ EXCLUSIVE ON THE OIL LEAKS- HOW POLITICIANS & BUREAUCRATS MASTERMINDED THE BIGGEST SCAM IN THE MALDIVES

The Oil Leaks 3


The hatch to oust Yameen that has been on MUO’s agenda since its formation in June, intensified parallely at a time when Yameen is under scanner once again for corruption in oil sales to Myanmar dating a decade ago.

The amount of corruption is $800 million.

Also accusing Yameen and his associates of receiving kickbacks from government owned islands, Nasheed told The New York Times, “President Yameen is very, very corrupt, and all the evidence is available. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Government rejected the allegations and called it ploy by “political rivals”. Yameen’s spokesman Sihab defend the government by saying that Yameen never sold oil to Myanmar during his tenure and dismissed receiving illegal payments via oil deals or land deals.

paradiseA documentary titled “Stealing Paradise” announced by Doha-based Al Jazeera that claims to reveal ‘mass corruption, theft and abuse of power in the Maldives’ also coincides with the opposition’s headway.

Downplaying the allegations and criticism, Yameen’s supporters accused MUO of jealousy and hailed him for his “successful development agenda” under #HealingParadise.

The supporters of Yameen even accused opposition of being close to the colonial powers as MUO’s top leadership- Nasheed along with former Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and MDP Chairman Ali Waheed- were granted asylum by the British government.

Yameen is already reeling under international pressure to step down for abuse of power, flouting human rights and stifling dissent during his regime.

He has also alienated himself from the top political leadership including the longest ruling dictator, half-brother and mentor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Most of his cabinet ministers – who now have representation in MUO- have been jailed or sacked, while some chose to resign due to his “dictatorial” attitude.

While former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former Defence Minister Ahmed Nazim were jailed, former Vice President Ali Waheed was impeached; former Home Minister Umar Naseer and former Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon chose to resign.

Coming Soon! The Oil Leaks : How Politicians & Bureaucrats Masterminded Biggest Scam In Maldives

in Investigation/News/Politics by

In 2011, the biggest ever investigation into the 30-year-long dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom blew the lid off an $800 million Oil Scam. And all the pointers led back to Gayoom’s younger half-brother, Abdulla Yameen – the present President of The Maldives.


The investigation, which was done by the Editor-In-Chief of FocusMaldives, Sumon K Chakrabarti and published in The Week magazine, was based on a confidential report that was submitted to the President’s Office by a UK-based finance consultancy called Grant Thornton, in September 2010. The previous March, then President Mohamed Nasheed – the first to be democratically elected in the Maldives had requested Grant Thornton to begin an investigation to trace alleged ‘hidden’ assets of Gayoom, his family members and associates. This followed on public allegations by the auditor-general, in 2008, that Gayoom had used government funds and national institutions for personal benefit during his years in power.

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The Singapore police too began an official criminal investigation into money laundering by Gayoom and his family members; today, the amounts being discussed range from $700 – $800 million. The Grant Thornton investigation was carried out mostly in Singapore, and the report, when it came out in September, was not just a serious indictment of President Yameen – but also a fascinating exploration of how autocracies often fall back on blood brother dictatorships to do business. In this case, that ‘brother’ was Burma.


MODUS OPERANDI


the week maldives article 1
The investigation was based on a confidential report that was submitted to the President’s Office by a UK-based finance consultancy called Grant Thornton

“Ghost ships” regularly left Singapore in the name of delivering oil to the Maldives – but never arrived here.’ He continued: ‘We are a tiny nation, and our oil consumption is very small. But the State Trading Organisation (Singapore) used to buy oil in bulk … and sell it either on the black market or to Myanmar.’

Maldives-Oil-Scam-Investigation-Documents
PeekABoo: From The Leaked Documents. Recently, Yameen has also been accused of involvement in massive corruption and embezzlement of public money from resort sales

The State Trading Organisation (Singapore) was set up in 1997 as a subsidiary of the State Trading Organisation. The latter, run and largely owned by the Maldivian state, was established in 1964 with the sole aim of keeping the prices of essential commodities at a stable rate for citizens of the atolls, mainly by importing and trading food staples, fuel, lubricants and construction materials. Today, the majority of the STO’s activities, where the government currently owns around 92.3 percent, constitute the supply and sale of petroleum and aviation fuel. STO Singapore’s mandate was initially limited to purchasing diesel and related products on behalf of the Maldives, mostly sourcing from companies such as Shell Eastern, the Singapore Petroleum Company and Petronas, the Malaysian-state run firm. But soon STO Singapore was authorised to sell these products to other countries, particularly Burma. The majority of its sales thus went to either Male or Rangoon, with the exception of 2002, when the majority of revenue came from Malaysia, through forged invoices.

When the Grant Thornton investigators landed in the Maldives late last year, they were provided with three hard drives from the President’s Commission, a body set up by Nasheed’s government to investigate allegations of corruption and misappropriation of assets under the previous regime. These were copies of hard drives from the STO Singapore office as of 2009. And the web of corruption started unravelling.

the week maldives article
“Ghost ships” regularly left Singapore in the name of delivering oil to the Maldives – but never arrived here

A NEW CACHE OF DOCUMENTS


FocusMaldives has now accessed a massive cache of leaked documents from a highly-placed source within the present government in the Maldives, which indicate that the 2010 investigation on the Oil Scam was just the tip of the iceberg.

“These never before seen documents about the illegal sale of $800m of oil to the Burmese Junta back in the 1990-2000 expose in far more detail how STO and Mocom carried out their fraud,” says Chakrabarti.

The leaked cache of documents include bank statements, Telegraphic transfers or telex transfers (TT) and swift transfers, Bills of Landing, letters of indemnity, track records, voyage instructions and many more. Maldives 1

The massive leak of information comes at a time of growing opposition to Yameen, as a broad opposition coalition including his former VPs, defence ministers, political allies and even his half-brother – former dictator Gayoom – seeks to remove him from power.

Recently, Yameen has also been accused of involvement in massive corruption and embezzlement of public money from resort sales, as well as elaborately planning to launder $1.5 billion through the Maldives central bank.
As our journalists go through the documents, the new investigation will soon be unravelled in an investigative series titled- The Oil Leaks (Loot On The High Seas: How Politicians & Bureaucrats Masterminded The Biggest Scam In The Maldives) Oil Scam Feature-1

FocusMaldives has also accessed documents presented in the high court of Singapore, which has been kept under the wraps for many years now. Informed sources indicated that a lot of money has been spent since 2011 to keep these documents from the public eye.

Police Block MDP’s Anniversary Rally; Party’s VP Taken Away, One Arrested

in News/Politics by

The 11th anniversary rally of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party took place on Monday amid police presence and series of controversies.

MP Rozaina Adam aaccused female officer of “physically abusing” her and party’s Vice President Mohamed Shifaz was taken away by police to “clarify matters” minutes before the rally started.

Police reportedly arrested one person for trying to cross the barricades placed by police to “block” the rally.

Among the hundreds of protestors, Queens Leaders’ this years winner from the Maldives Safaath Ahmed also joined the rally in solidarity with the MDP supporters.

Police had earlier warned organising the rally stating that it was against new rule which profits any political gathering on the streets of Male, which MDP dubbed as illegal and said that they were going to hold the rally anyway despite warning.


LIVE UPDATES:

#FocusMaldives | @QueensLeaders #Maldives Winner @safaathahmed Joins #MDPRally Tonight LIVE- https://t.co/JIi3abgD2s pic.twitter.com/BAVGkG2AnF

— Focus Maldives (@FocusMaldives) July 11, 2016

 

Cherie Blair’s Omnia Strategy Paid £210,000 By MMPRC- Company Implicated In Country’s Biggest Corruption Scandal

in News/Politics by

Amid the allegations of money laundering and terror financing against President Yameen, involvement of Cherie Blair, chairperson, Omnia Strategy, in the biggest corruption scandal has hit the headlines.

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According to a revelation by The Daily Mail, Omnia strategy, signed a deal with the Yameen government to provide consultancy on “democratic consolidation”, has been paid more than £200,000 by a company allegedly involved in the biggest corruption scandal in the country.

The British daily, after investigating leaked invoices and bank records, found out that Omnia had billed Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) for £210,000 in August last year.

This amount of £210,000 was the half amount of total fee charged by the firm for a six-month contract that was signed with the government in mid-2015.

The payment, however, was made by a local textiles importer called MC Maldives Pvt Ltd. Its owner Abdulla Rafiu claimed that he wired the money on the request of Mohamed Allam Latheef ‘Moho,’ the owner of SOF Pvt Ltd, who was unable to make an international payment due to Eid holidays.

According to Rafiu, he wired the money from an account at the Bank of Ceylon branch in Malé to an HSBC account in London unaware of the fact that where the money was going. The money was deposited in his account by Latheef.

“When I found out I was very unhappy,” Rafiu told The Daily Mail.

Who is Abdulla Ziyath?

Ziyath.


Abdul Ziyath, former managing director of the MMPRC, was arrested in connection with the President’s speedboat blast on September 28 along with former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb. Ziyath, now, faces charges of corruption for misappropriation of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion agency.

Who is Mohamed Allam Latheef?

Mohamed Allam Latheef, lead singer of a popular local band called Scores of Flair (SOF) is a close associate of Adeeb and among the five suspects wanted in connection with the boat blast.

An Interpol red notice issued for his arrest states that he is wanted for “threatening catastrophe, criminal property damage, use of dangerous weapons during an offence, trafficking, manufacture, sale, or possession of catastrophic agents or firearms, terrorism, and corruption.”

Maldives biggest corruption scandal

An audit report of the MMPRC has revealed that the company has siphoned off US$70 million into SOF’s bank account. The company also deposited millions of dollars of resort lease payments to SOF’s account on the signature of Ziyath. He also endorsed the cheques made out to MMPRC to SOF.

After the release of audit report, SOF said that it was a payment received for providing a brokerage service to the MMPRC and claimed that the funds were distributed to Yameen and his wife and other politicians as requested.

Yameen denied the reports of involvement in the corruption scandal and said that he will get back the stolen funds.

The Omnia angle

Omnia Strategy, the London and Washington-based consultancy, founded and chaired by Cherie Blair signed a deal to advise President Yameen’s government on “democracy consolidation”.

The consultancy charged the Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of the MMPRC, on government’s behalf for £210,000 (half the total amount for 6-month of service). The MMPRC, which allegedly misappropriated US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion agency, siphoned off US$70 million into SOF’s bank account.

Of US$70 million, £210,000 was transferred to an HSBC account in London, apparently belonging to Omnia, via MC Maldives Pvt Ltd. owner Abdulla Rafiu.

The Daily Mail suggested that Omnia could become the subject of an anti-corruption investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office as well as the US government.

Omnia said that it terminated six-month contract early due to unpredictable domestic events and is no longer instructed by either the government or the MMPRC.

The Daily Mail also revealed that Omnia was hired to advice on “strategic diplomacy, media training, international media relations, and the management of international coverage” of jailed former President Mohamed Yameen and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

The Maldives government also hired Washington based lobbyist firm, Podesta Group in September for a sum of US$300,000 and London-based PR firm BTP Advisers in November.

According to Maldives Independent, government spent MVR 297,510.88 (US$19,293.83) on visits of Omnia’s barrister Toby Cadman, between June and September.

Omnia was also pulled in to help government to submit a 110-page response to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention after it ruled Nasheed’s terrorism charges politically motivated and imprisonment illegal.

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