Tourism Ministry revokes permit of tour operator Atoll Paradise over fraud allegations

The Maldives Tourism Ministry has suspended the permit allowing local tour operator Atoll Paradise to take holiday bookings, following allegations the company – now under police investigation – has defrauded customers and international travel agents.

Tourism Ministry Senior Legal Officer Faseeh Zahir told Minivan News that the government had temporarily revoked Atoll Paradise’s licence to operate as a travel agent, and fined the company MVR 1 million (US$65,000).

“We have received several complaints from customers and foreign travel agents in recent months that bookings have been cancelled [by the company], but no refund has been given,” he said. “There are allegations of fraud and of the company not acting according to regulations. This is not just a case of one guest, we have received several complaints.”

Faseeh said that although the company’s permit to operate as a travel agent had been temporarily revoked, Atoll Paradise would still be required to honour all existing bookings.

“However, from today, Atoll Paradise is not allowed to take any new bookings from clients,” he said.

According to Faseeh, the Tourism Ministry has received several complaints of alleged fraud by Atoll Paradise over the last two months as authorities have sought to hold talks with the company.

He said the ministry had noted some “misconduct” by the company and decided based on complaints received to both fine and revoke Atoll Paradise’s permit until all alleged outstanding payments and grievances had been settled.

With the ministry not itself being an investigative authority, Faseeh added that police had also been informed of the Atoll Paradise case.

Police Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that an investigation was now expected to begin into the company’s operations following the allegations of fraud.

According to Faseeh, any decision to return Atoll Paradise’s permit would depend on the outcome of the police investigation, as well as whether the company could resolve the complaints against it from clients and travel agents.

Award success

Atoll Paradise is one of the Maldives’ largest locally-owned tour operators, with the company in May winning several accolades including the Maldives’ and Seychelles Leading Tour Operator at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Indian Ocean ceremony.

The company was also awarded the title of the World’s Leading Luxury Boutique Tour Operator at the 2012 WTA ceremony.

Atoll Paradise’s office in Male’ was not responding to calls at time of press. The company had also failed to respond to email enquiries at time of press.

Ministry focus

The Tourism Ministry said today that Atoll Paradise was not the first local tour operator to have its permit revoked by the government over allegations of misconduct.

Ministry Legal Officer Faseeh said that ministry had last year revoked the license of one local operator accused of acting outside the law.

He urged guests intending to book a Maldives holiday through a local operator to be aware of their rights and ensure they had been provided with a booking agreement specifying terms of cancellation. Resort bookings in the luxury honeymoon destination can reach many thousands of dollars.

Faseeh said local tour operators were required to communicate and agree terms for cancelled bookings, as well as communicating them to the client upon confirming a booking.

He added that guests wishing to seek clarification on a booking or travel agency could directly contact the ministry or industry body, such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO), via e-mail.

Any complaints against a tour operator could meanwhile be registered through the Tourism Ministry’s website here.


72 thoughts on “Tourism Ministry revokes permit of tour operator Atoll Paradise over fraud allegations”

  1. mr bagir who owns the company is a leading mdp activist who donates alot to the party. no surprises here.

  2. also why does mr bagir hires only filipino women in his company? almost 90% of the employees are foreigners.

  3. this company is charging the guest way very expensive than you can imagine & now canceling the bookings. what a horrible experience by the guests. also kindly investigate the expat from philippines that's coming here as tourist & then will work in AP, this is one reasons why the philippines is accussing Maldives as transit points for illegal recruiters.

  4. These agencies should not be allowed to operate without a guarantee of payment protection for consumers.

    If a local Hajj group can steal the money of a pilgrim wishing to go to Hajj (who have saved all their life for that purpose), what's going to stop these agencies from stealing the money of foreign tourists?

    Where's the law and regulation?

  5. This company took $7000 USD from us and cancelled our booking and have not provided a refund. We had to re-book and pay again with another agency. When we talk to Atoll Paradise all we get is excuses and lies. Only 3 managers can deal with booking issues / refunds and they don't want to talk to anyone. But all the staff can take money and bookings.....

  6. Sound more like a Hell than an atollParadise.

    Time to bring some transparent sun light into this so called atoll Paradise activities.

  7. This will reflect not only in atoll paradise but in the other travel agencies too. No individual or private company should destroy the credibility of tourism in Maldives with its main income is tourism. REVOKE their licensed to operate for good.

  8. We have informed MATATO, MATI and Ministry of Tourism start of april 2013 about this company and what they make with clients money, but NO ANSWER from all of them until some days ago.

    We have lost more than $ 20'000.- and lost our honeymoon because of Atoll fraud. We always wait on our refund (from march 2013 until today !)...

    I'm not happy at all that no one has moved before, we have send a LOT of e-mail to all Maldivian Organizations including police and authorities, no answer from all of them !

  9. Everyone is Maldives tourism knows Atoll Paradise has been doing this for some time. Why has it taken the tourism Ministry this long to do any thing?

  10. @tristal & Russel, please tell us who responded to your emails... normaly no govt organization responds to emails... usually the civil servant's english level is very low because most of them are selected to post by all corrupt means necessary by a minister brother or minister surprise there.. but it will be nice to know who responded so that we can atleast keep our head high. next time, for such cases.., please choose international travel magazines and social networks.. it will get answered faster.. thats how things work in Maldives. Sorry for your loss. we hope you get your refund back. Tc

  11. I'm still waiting my money.
    Ministry of Tourism @ Maldives , How to proceed it for tourists ??

    Pls let me know

  12. Where did the customers' money go?
    Salaries were never paid on time. This is why I quit.
    The directors are always travelling and having good time partying with women!!!

  13. Many middle Maldivians aspire to be rich, famous, and most important well-noted in society in terms of class. It would take anything to achieve this goal.

    -We spend more than we earn
    -We work less and expect fat wages
    -We starve to afford a smart phone, a motobike, a flat screen TVW and good clothes and sports wear only from Sony. -Fantasy is the only supermarket to shop and our kids must be in Bilabong school at least.
    -A visit to Bangkok, Singapore, KL or Dubai monthly is a must!.....and on and on.

    You need loads of money to have this lifestyle and most average folks earn enough just to pay for the rent and motorbike insurance. Well, think of the guys slightly above an average Maldivian simply because they have land or a building.

    To be rich in Maldives (unless you started business 30 yrs ago) you must use CORRUPT means, and I mean all means available. We read about it everyday, we read of court cases, we see it with our own eyes. Somewhere down the line most rich people made money the wrong way.

    Atoll Paradise is one such company, and extremely careless, extravagant and nasty. There are many more travel agents and traders, but as we all know, our justice system doesnt function and we have no laws or regulations in providing security to consumers, domestic or foreign.

    Min of Tourism should be responsible for this kinds of acts that will kill the trust from tour operators and lead to all middle travel agents companies to collapse, leaving the resorts and owners dictate the market with direct bookings. Most resorts are foreign management which means Maldives will earn less.

    Greed, and that nasty attitude of 'dont care' has tarnished the reputation of Maldives and no financial institution is willing to financially invest in Maldives.

  14. They got award for success ??? it should be for cheating, it is a paid award and every one know in the industry

  15. perhaps they went bankrupt cause they spent alot of money to buy the award? corruption everywhere.

  16. The one and only Kuda Sappe' is Atoll Paradise's Chief Commercial Officer!...

  17. The company was doing well but then their success was their downfall. The directors/managers thought they could invest in a new big building, party every week with foreigners(whores), travel and spend weeks overseas, divorce or simply take up new wives or girlfriends, employ cheap foreign labour that spent most of their spare times in their beds,... This typical success story turned sour due to greediness should be a lesson for all!!!
    The image of Maldives tourism is forever tarnished because of these people.

  18. Its not surprising they have not been able to fully recover from various incidents that took place last year. Huge delay, mismanagement and over investment in their new office construction project which is still ongoing today. Also most notably two of their most senior IT staff were caught defrauding the company allegedly causing millions of dollars of loss. Safras Ahamed and Mohamed Hisham were imprisoned since being arrested at the beginning of last year, and are apparently still under investigation by the serious crime unit of the Maldives Police. It was uncovered they had been collaborating with several other people to cheat the company for more than a year. Like other similar unreported cases like this, it seems due to lack of cyber crime laws these type of criminals are now walking around free despite hard evidence. It was a drastic mistake of Bagir concealing this form the public eye and a clear failure not to have done enough to salvage the situation. Businesses should be more aware of such criminals on the loose in the country.

  19. This company was highly successful for the last 7 years. In fact all other local agencies modelled themselves on Atoll.
    The company was promised a loan to assist with the construction of a new office but then the government fell.
    The model of the company is good and everyone in the Maldives knows this. The only downfall is lack of funding.
    Don't revel in other people's wrong decisions, have a bit of compassion for the people who may lose their jobs! The clients as we all know will be repaid, if anyone has seen the new office (which many of us partners have) then you will know its worth over $10 million!
    I have many friends at AP and know how hard they worked for Bagir, they deserve some thought and compassion right now!!

  20. I’m still waiting my money.Bagir you ****** give my money back.

  21. The company is a big fraud. Bagir is a very evil person treating his employees so badly. Verbal abused is everywhere in the office from him. Bagir had been hiring employees from the Philippines illegally using dummy companies to get his quota from immigration. The employees were given false promises hence they are trapped. The incident of hacking the IT system is probably one of the bad karmas he deserve and more or maybe he also plotted it and had hisham and safraz framed up. The company winning a travel award was arranged and paid with a large amount of money. The money from clients were not paid to the resorts and instead spent lavishly on alcohol, drugs and international travels. Bagir deserves to have all the misfortunes pouring in his life. Justice for all whom he had hurt.

  22. Bagir's back in Male',make a complaint to the tourism ministry to get your money back (try at least). They are pressing charges against the ministry for cancelling their permit (can they even do that?). I bet by now Sappe' will be working so hard to get something done temporaraly and rip off Bagir.

  23. Bagir's head of commercial operations and his drinking partner Ahmed Shafeeq Ibrahim Moosa (Sappe') is a British passport holder. He lives in Scotland, so may be any British victims can claim money from him?

  24. @EmployeeOfAtollP
    why bagir is pressing charges to ministry?is it because they revoked atoll paradise license to operate. are you F___ing nuts! it should be the ministry of tourism to charges this atoll paradise for defrauding the guests, employees, resorts, & hotels. i bet your boss is not fasting this holy month of Ramazan.

  25. True AP use to be the top and most promising travel agency with the following best of the best management team namely gerard/tony/anu/safras/hisham/jessa and hard-working filipino TC.
    These are the people making bagir's bank account a full blast millions of dollars!
    Yet these people little they know that bagir and his british wife thinks they are just one of the insects just flying around in AP.
    These F*****g couple are great pretenders! they pretend to be nice and as if they praise their management team for a job well done! yet every day, every F*****g end of the day they will say I have F*****g idiot employees making me rich!
    If your a real CEO.....bagir! you should do these!
    *no matter how high your work position is, even you are the owner of your company, you should always step down to all levels of your employees.
    *never take advantage of your employees skills just to make your own shit! yet you must developed them not only for the good of the company but to the eyes of people surrounding AP.
    *you yourself should look into matters personally, never as a CEO to depend all your HOD to do this and do that?
    *face the problem, and not toss the problem to your employees by immediate removal from their position.
    *always say thank you from the bottom of your heart
    *and most important of all...learn to RESPECT all people surrounding you, whatever the race is? whatever the level of education is? whatever the status and position in life they have?
    RESPECT them all! so that you can be respected at the end!

    well bagir..thats CEO 101!!!!!!

  26. the company was doing well before and the owner (Bagir) himself was nice at the early stage! must say he was even generous to his people! no company has given such high bonuses/salaries to employees like he used to. guess he surrounded himself with the WRONG PEOPLE and made many bad choices that has its way of coming back to him.

    the company was a legit travel agency (escort/prostitution is never a business of AP) and everyone knows that in Maldives so please those who want to put some bad names & bad things about AP, knock it off!

    AP was a good company but not anymore 🙁 🙁 🙁

    all company does go through some financial crisis and AP's situation has only escalated from bad to worst. let's hope that everyone who has their money with them will get it back though i doubt it now.

  27. Im ashame to both of them! using their employees for their self-vested interest!
    Its such a waste of time and effort all that bagir in front of his very eyes...his own downfall!
    goodluck to your future! lets see if people will trust you ever again!

  28. as they always say....whatever you do to your day they will do it to you too.
    ask for forgiveness...better repent for everything you have done.
    this is not the end.....everything is just a beginning to both of you......
    watch out.....!

  29. So sad Mohamed Bagir , pls think ur self wtf u did with ur hardworking employees., u Thot ur the one,. No one ca stop you,.! See Allah gave money and took money back

  30. Dear admin again someone used my name and commented againts Atoll Paradise please consider, im not commanting in this site, im asking you please delete comments in my name MUJA..

    (Muja on Mon, 22nd Jul 2013 5:58 PM
    So sad Mohamed Bagir , pls think ur self wtf u did with ur hardworking employees., u Thot ur the one,. No one ca stop you,.! See Allah gave money and took money back)

    That is the comment please delete this comment, im waiting for ur reply

  31. Admin pease delete comments in my name muja. cos i didnt comment some one using my name. please consider to comments in my name MUJA

  32. We have booked our honeymoon with AP on 7/6/13 and paid our deposit. We received an email today cancelling our booking effective today and asking us to enquire with our travel insurance or credit card for a refund. AP should be giving us a refund!! Will we receive our money from Atoll?? Has our honeymoon even been booked?

  33. I am one of the customers that have fallen into this fraud by ATOLL Paradise. I have been trying for the last 2.5 mths to get a refund of funds that I had paid back in January for my honeymoon. Looks like we have truly been ripped off blindly and will never see our monies again,

  34. Can anyone else advise how we can get some of our monies back apart from the credit card or travel insurance companies?

  35. Dear people, pls make a complaint to the tourism ministry and lodge a complaint with copies of evidence. And please make a police complaint as well!

  36. I had booked our honeymoon with AP and will go on 03/08/13 and already fully paid. We received an email today that our booking have cancel effective today. We din't buy thetravel insurance. How can I get refund??? Will we receive our money from Atoll?? What can I do now? I need some help.

  37. Dear JJ,

    Kindly contact credit card company and dispute your payment. ask them to charge back your credit card. tell them AP has cheated you, and their licence already cancelled. when you send email, or letter with relevant documents you must attache this document also.

    Do it immediately. your refund depend on your credit card company.

  38. E-News,

    I have call bank today. The staff call me direct contact AP to get refund, bank can't do anything. I'm from Malaysia, is there any another solution?

  39. AP knows bank cannot do anything. Even if they can it'd take a long process. If your from Malaysia, u can kick bagir's ass when he goes back to KL

  40. Does any one know how can we take our money back from AP, they dameged our honeymoon><
    And they did nothing for us

  41. Our honeymoon has been scrwed and they took our money. and no one has an answer other than pre written emaills they send to all customers

  42. Now the only way is call credit card bank see whether can dispute payment or not. But I think the opportunity are small.
    The honeymoon we expect was screwed up by AP.

  43. No No No

    What is the solution to recover the money ???

    Communicate with the Minister of Tourism, more than two months ago about this agency and director Marchil and no response !!

  44. Dear JJ,

    Contact Global visa and dispute your payment and explain the situation to them, you may get the solution from global visa,
    if your credit card company not giving any solution.
    Send your complaints to,
    [email protected]
    Attention: Corporate Communications
    Visa Inc.
    Robinson Road
    P.O. Box 597
    Singapore 901147

  45. Dear JJ,

    Please ignore above one, go through with this,

    [email protected] (Just explain your credit card bank is not providing better solution on this regard)

    Try to explain this way also,

    Push, will get your money back.


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