Controller of Immigration Mohamed Ali on Monday expressed concern that the Maldives was being used as a mid-point for money laundering and illegal immigration to Europe.
Speaking at the Fifth Meeting of the SAARC Immigration Authorities, Ali said that while it was a rising concern that illegal immigrants were making their way to Europe via the Maldives, there was also the matter of African nationals attempting to enter the Maldives itself illegally.
Ali pointed out that people from African countries like Nigeria were entering the Maldives, which he said would lead to problems.
“Now for example, if people like those from Nigeria start entering the Maldives, you all know what sort of problems this can give rise to. That is because Nigerians don’t have much of a reputation when it comes to certain things,” the Controller said.
Stating there was a chance that Maldivians were involved in assisting the illegal immigration, Ali said this should therefore be a matter of huge concern for the country.
“We haven’t received any information about Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, we have been getting other sorts of information,” Ali said.
“There is all sorts of organised crime coming in now from all sides. It isn’t just terrorism,” he said.
Ali went on to say that people on the Interpol watch-list had been intercepted attempting to enter the Maldives a number of times. A few of these persons have been found after entering the country.
He highlighted the importance of working more closely with Interpol and of strengthening the border control system in order to prevent such crimes from continuing.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Mohamed Ali further said that he hoped the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) would now consider the implications of money laundering happening in the country.
“What I meant to say is that there are risks of all these activities happening in the Maldives. Our intention is for MMA to plan and start taking action about the issue of money laundering,” Ali said.
The current border control system is operated by Nexbis, and is at present a contentious matter. The Anti-Corruption Commission has recently approached parliament’s Finance Committee about the issue.
The Maldives has meanwhile been on the US State Department’s tier 2 watch list for human trafficking for three years’ running.