Former Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom was on Thursday found guilty of laundering over $1 million (Rs 7.16 crore) deposited in his bank account, that was used to channel resort acquisition fees stolen during his presidency, the Maldives Independent reported on Thursday.
A five-judge bench of the Criminal Court ruled that Yameen invested the money despite reasonable grounds to suspect that it was black money. The bench also said that Yameen violated an agreement signed with the Anti-Corruption Commission to hold $1 million in an escrow account. It sentenced Yameen to five years in prison and imposed a $5 million (Rs 35.78 crore) fine on him.
“The judges took over 10 days to deliberate on this and this is the unanimous verdict of the five judges,” Justice Ali Rasheed Hussain said. Rasheed said the testimonies of former Anti-Corruption Commission Vice President Muaviz Rasheed, Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and former managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation Abdulla Ziyath were enough to establish that the $1 million was stolen money.
However, Yameen’s supporters, present outside the court, accused the government of “hijacking” the judiciary. They claimed that the trial was politically motivated.
Yameen led Maldives as president from 2013 to 2018. During that time, he was accused of corruption, enforcing bans on the media and persecuting political opponents, according to AP. Yameen lost the 2018 Maldives elections to current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
In February this year, the Criminal Court in Male had ordered the detention of Yameen in the case. Government prosecutors told the court that the former president attempted to bribe a witness to change or retract a statement. The police also charged Yameen with alleged false testimony to the Anti-Corruption Commission, and former Legal Affairs Minister Aishath Azima Shukoor of assisting with money laundering.