Civil Court dismisses STO’s case against MP Riyaz Rasheed’s Meridian Services

The Civil Court has dismissed a case filed by the State Trading Organisation (STO) against MP Riyaz Rasheed’s Meridian Services seeking to recover MVR19.3 million (US$1.2 million) released as credit.

According to local media, the court dismissed the lawsuit after STO lawyers did not turn up to a hearing scheduled for February 6.

Judges are empowered to dismiss cases if the plaintiff or claimant does not attend court hearings.

The former Dhivehi Qaumee Party MP meanwhile joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives last month.

STO and Meridian Services signed an oil trade agreement on March 31, 2010, which offered the company a credit facility worth MVR20 million (US$ 1,297,016.86) for purchasing oil from STO.

The agreement stipulated that payments had to be made within a period of 40 days.

However, in August 2010, STO lowered its credit limit from MVR20 million to MVR10 million (US$648,508.43) and shortened the payment period from 40 to 30 days, prompting Meridian Services to sue STO for alleged breach of contract.

Meridian Services lost the first case, however, after Civil Court Judge Abdulla Jameel Moosa ruled in favor of STO.

Case history

In April 2012, the STO sent a letter to the Civil Court requesting withdrawal of the case against Meridian. However, then-STO MD Shahid Ali claimed a week later that the letter was sent “by mistake.”

The STO’s intent was to request delaying hearings as the company did not have the legally required number of members on its board of directors following the “change in government” on February 7, 2012, Shahid explained, adding that the case would resubmitted.

At a hearing of the case in June last year after the trial resumed, STO lawyers claimed that original documents of business transactions with Meridian had been stolen.

The theft of the documents from the STO office occurred on October 27, 2011 and was reported to police at the time, the lawyers said.

The lawyer reportedly requested the opportunity to present witnesses to prove the authenticity of copies or other records of the stolen documents.

However, lawyers for the Vilufushi MP’s Meridian Services disputed the authenticity of the purchase orders, delivery notices, and invoices submitted as evidence by STO, claiming the documents were forged.

The Meridian lawyer claimed that there were discrepancies in the purchase orders and delivery notes with inconsistent numbers and quantities as well as lack of signatures.

In response, the STO lawyer said Meridian had not submitted any evidence or any statement challenging the validity of the evidence submitted by STO.

The judge adjourned the hearing after announcing that a decision would be made at the next hearing over STO’s request to present witnesses.