MP Yameen dismisses allegations of blackmarket oil trade with Burma

Minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) Leader MP Abdulla Yameen called on the government today to investigate allegations of US$800 million worth of blackmarket oil trade by the State Trading Organisation (STO) while he was chairman of the state-owned enterprise.

During parliamentary debate on a resolution proposed by MP Mohamed Musthafa demanding an investigation into the allegations, Yameen conceded that STO did sell oil to Burma “but if you claim that the trade was illegal, you have to prove it first.”

“This was done by forming a company in a country where such matters are most closely monitored,” he said. “That company is audited by STO auditors. An illegal business would not be allowed to operate in Singapore. This was not a secret trade.”

Yameen added that STO senior officials alleged to be involved in the oil trade were still employed by the government: “They are now in high posts in the MDP,” he said.

“So if you dare to investigate this, by all means go ahead,” he continued. “I encourage that this be investigated. The other thing I want to say is that I have now become impatient. Even if they stack US$800 million worth of documents on one end of the scale, there is no way they would be able to prove [any wrongdoing].

“The documents are with the government. We did not take documents home with us when we left office,” he said.

Yameen, brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and long-serving Trade Minister in his cabinet, claimed that the administration possessed a list of senior officials of the previous government who had purchased assets overseas.

“The government will have that list now,” he said. “Why is it that they won’t make it public? I know that this work was done under the World Bank’s stolen assets recovery programme [StAR]. This list will have people who are now helping this government, not anyone else. Why don’t you release the list?”

The MP for Mulaku claimed that the government has paid “over a million dollars” to forensic accounting firm Grant Thornton, without uncovering any evidence to implicate Yameen.

“In such investigations, forensic accountants are given two or  three weeks to complete their work,” he said. “[But] this has now been dragged out for over a year.”

Yameen said that he was “ready to sue” for defamation if a final report “under seal and signature of Grant Thornton” was made public.

“But there’s no way to file this suit because no official document has been released,” he continued. “All that’s been released are draft reports without any signature or seal that can be taken to court.”

Yameen added that “the US$800 million worth of trade was done with back-to-back LCs (lines of credit) in Singapore based on trust between one bank and another.”

“All the bank documentation is there,” he said, claiming that Grant Thornton had cleared out all the “invoices and documents” from STO Singapore so that “there’s not even one photocopy left.”

“How can eight or nine years worth of documents of a government company be taken like this?” he asked. “I know this for a fact.”

The right of individuals to be considered innocent until proven guilty was “a sacred provision” in the Maldivian constitution, he said.

During the heated debate that followed, Former Finance Minister Gasim Ibrahim urged the government to allow the allegations to be investigated either by police or the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as “they are the institutions that are legally empowered to conduct investigations.”

“I don’t believe this case should be debated in parliament,” said Gasim, arguing that the constitution protected the rights of the accused.

MP Eva Abdulla of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile observed that the audit report of the State Trading Organisation (STO) had noted that about Rf11 million (US$80,000) in local currency was released to Emerald Resort Pvt Ltd as loan facilities between April 1, 2003 to April 3, 2005 to be paid back in US dollars.

“The same report noted that STO imported medical equipment without a bidding process at a much higher price than [the equipment] was available for,” she continued.

Eva also referred to the audit reports of the Maldives Customs Service, which revealed that luxury yachting company Sultans of the Seas in 2007 had forged documents to evade import duties for a yacht.

“After that the audit report of the presidential palace Theemuge noted that Rf104 million was given out as assistance,” she said. “From that, 50,000 Singapore dollars were spent for medical assistance to the [former President’s] family members. And US$20,000 for a member of the People’s Majlis. And so on until Rf100 million was reached. It’s not just the US$800 million dollar case we want to investigate. We want this to be looked into.”

The MDP MP for Galolhu North revealed that the Presidential Commission was currently investigating over 25 similar cases of corruption and misappropriation of state funds by the former government.

“Honourable Speaker, whether it is me [facing corruption allegations], the Deputy Speaker, the leader of a fragmented and unraveling party, the brother of a deposed ruler, we want to make certain that these investigations will go ahead and that we can have justice,” she said. “We want to stop looking back as a nation and breathe freely. We can only do that when we face these cases of corruption and find out the truth.”


14 thoughts on “MP Yameen dismisses allegations of blackmarket oil trade with Burma”

  1. So HEP and his MDP have acknowledged that Yaamin is truly a threat.

    I am sure he is grateful for the free publicity.

    It is a pity that the MDP's righteous indignation rings so hollow these days. It is a miracle how public sentiment can change over time no?

  2. Listening to today's debate, especially to that of Nihan and Yaameen; I cannot help but wonder if this resolution was submitted by Musthafa on Yaameen's request. Knowing Musthafa and his relationship with Yaameen and Nazim this is very very likely.

  3. Today Yaameen said that they did not take any files when the government changed and that all the files are there. True. They kept the files. They shredded and burnt all documents and destroyed the hard discs. Those who worked at the president's office and Singapore then will know this.

  4. Honorable Yameen I am not discussing about 800 hundred millions of United States dollars. I will talk of relatively small amount money. Can you explain how you bought the house in Male? We all know how poor your family was. Definitely you did not inherit any wealth from your parents. And as a minister you did not get a fat salary. I feel that you are trying to bluff off.
    Oh yes “A final stage for a crook is politics” this we all know well.

  5. @ tsk tsk, you have point. I know I know Musthapha well, he is like a tiger by tail.

  6. I 100% agree with Mr Yameen that nobody can find any evidence of his illegal oil trade because government has given time more than enough to hide any possible evidence...


  7. This is a sign that President Nasheed accepting that Yameen is becoming a huge threat to him in the coming elections. This case was there even before Anni came to power and the question is why they are investigating the case now

  8. IT is not Nasheed who is taking about Yameen.It we the Maldivians demanding justice and our money to be returned. Let us wait and see the day all these crooks be brought to justice. Facial expression speaks all about some one's guilty....

  9. Oh how I wish we can recover $ 800 million. Looks like it is more likely that I will win the UK state lottery even though I have never bought a lottery ticket in my life.

  10. On a five trip day to Perth, Yameen sat next to me in my car outside the boarding college at UWA, where we were taking his Son. Yameen said these exact words... "My Brother, the President (Maumoon was the President at that time), is too soft, too forgiving, too compassionate...That is what the problem is in our society."

    He was not referring to Maumoon's attitude towards drug dealers, religious extremists or criminals, the context of the conversation was about Maumoon being too forgiving towards his political opponents.

    To any who support Yameen against the Government, you are either totally naive or totally evil. He will repress any dissidence with a brutality that will make Maumoon look like Mother Theresa in comparison.

    Your anxiety will return ten fold, but perhaps, it is the only way you will learn to respect liberty!

    Maldivians, think back to a time that you spoke against Maumoon and you felt anxious, think back to, that time, you were at that party, and you blasted out some comment against Maumoon, then you spent the next few days thinking such and such may tell Maumoon, oh my I might be in trouble! You wanted to tell Maumoon you loved him just in case. You were enslaved mentally.

    THIS anxiety is going to be fifty times, no, a million times worse, and idiots like TSk Tsk and Nars will be used by Yameen chewed up and spat out, he psychologically rapes all that are close to him.

  11. What's more disgusting than a chest thumping Bond movie villain are his faithful vulture shills whose only aspiration in life is a reward of carrion once the master is done.

  12. Why all these stupid and dumb Maldivians want to be the PRESIDENT; don’t you guys know that Maldives is worse than a banana republic! Maldivian parliament debates on religion more that tax bill. Lucky guys you have a first class place in seventh heaven.

  13. Just think.
    How can you touch a guy with USD 800 Million in a poor country, especially when the Government has made him richer by the new exchange rate of 15 rf.

    The Government first needs at least that much or more funds to go after him.

  14. The oil is sold cheap from the Arabic world to Maldives based on the Islamic concept of Brotherhood etc... It is MEANT to be for ALL Maldivian ppl to enjoy, as it is a kind of charity (Sadaqah)and charity is meant to be for the poor! So, when Yameen steels the oil, and profits from it himself, this is stealing what is meant to benefit all Maldivians to make himself rich.

    I feel, that the only way Yameen can make right his exploitation of the beautiful sentiment of charity being expressed here is by using that 800 or whatever million to do good works for Maldivians, he should use every cent of it on paying for studies, medical assistance.


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