International

Ousted Maldives President ‘received $1.5m in hard cash’ ahead of vote: Report

Image Courtesy: Al-Jazeera

Police have been informed by an anti-money laundering body in Maldives that President Abdulla Yameen received $1.5m in hard currency days ahead of a contentious presidential election in the Indian Ocean island nation, Al-Jazeera reported.

Yameen was ousted after being defeated in the September 23 elections, seen as a win for democracy.

Al Jazeera reported after having seen a confidential letter that the president received the money in two instalments to a private bank account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.

The document from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), an agency under the Maldives’ central bank, was dated September 13 and was addressed to Acting Commissioner of Police Abdulla Nawaz.

In the letter, the FIU said a third party deposited $648,508 in hard currency into the president’s account on September 5. Another $810,635 was deposited to the same account on September 10.

“The whole amount was later withdrawn in hard currency,” the letter said.

“When the bank asked about the source of the money and its use, the bank was told the money was donations from private companies and various others to be used in the 2018 presidential election,” it said, without specifying who spoke on behalf of the president.

Ahmed Shifan, spokesman for police, declined to comment on the case. Two police sources confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Al Jazeera.

The letter suggested the transactions were in breach of the Maldives’ election laws, which oblige candidates to set up separate accounts for campaign activities as well as declare the identities of donors.

Fuwad Thowfeek, former head of the elections commission, said the president appeared to have violated the provision on establishing a separate account for election-related expenses, but he still has time to declare the source of the money.

“Candidates must declare each and every donation, who it came from and how much, within 30 days of the election. If he fails to do that, then it’s an issue,” Fuwad said.

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