Presidential Commission forwards Yameen’s alleged US$800 million illegal oil trade for prosecution

The presidential commission has forwarded a case for prosecution against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother and MP, Abdulla Yameen, for his alleged involvement in the international illegal oil trade worth up to US$800 million whilst he was the chairman of the State Trading Organisation (STO) till 2005.

Yameen has publicly dismissed the allegations on several occasions, distancing himself from the Singapore branch of the STO where the trade to Burma took place, as well as disputing any illegality in the trade.

The allegations first appeared in February 2011 in India’s The Week magazine in a cover story by Sumon Chakrabarti, Chief National Correspondent of CNN-IBN, who described Yameen as “the kingpin” of a scheme to buy subsidised oil through STO’s branch in Singapore and sell it through a joint venture called ‘Mocom Trading’ to the Burmese military junta, at a black market premium price.

The article draws heavily on an investigation report by international accountancy firm Grant Thorton, commissioned by the Maldives government in March 2010, which obtained three hard drives containing financial information detailing transactions from 2002 to 2008. No digital data was available before 2002, and the paper trail “was hazy”.

Investigators learned that Mocom Trading was set up in February 2004 as a joint venture between STO Singapore and a Malaysian company called ‘Mocom Corporation Sdn Bhd’, with the potential lucrative deal of selling oil to Myanmar and an authorised capital of US$1 million – but instead, acted as a front to an international money laundering racket that has cost Maldives millions of dollars.

The report subsequently prompted an investigation into the alleged illegal trade by the Presidential Commission, investigative body appointed by President Mohamed Nasheed and the parliament’s National Security Committee questioned the alleged parties.

Chair of the presidential commission ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the investigation’s findings implicated Yameen and two other shareholders of STO Singapore – Former Managing Director of STO Mohamed Manik and former Managing Director of STO Singapore Ahmed Muneez.

“The three together were involved in this [illegal oil trade],” claimed Manik. “The oil trade carried out through Mocom Singapore is alleged to have involved fraud, transactions that deliberately caused losses to the company as well as a lot of illegal transactions which were against general business principles.”

Therefore, he said, the commission has requested the police and Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) this week to file the criminal charges against the three men, and asked the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to pursue civil compensation suits against the three. Singaporean authorities will also go forward with the prosecution cases, he added.

However, he said the authorities will make the final decision on who will be prosecuted based on the findings.

Manik pointed out that the findings reveal that Mocom did not make any sales between 2004 and 2005, while 2001, 2002 and 2003’s financial statements audit showed that the company made a total profit of only SD 51,930.

However, in 2004 alone, an unnamed shareholder of Mocom received SD 51 million as sales commission, according to Manik.

“Hence, even though the company’s [Mocom’s] sales belong to STO Singapore, it did not receive anything and kept facing losses while certain shareholders and alleged parties kept making undue financial gains,” Manik explained.

He added that while the investigation is still not over they had decided to put the alleged parties on trial as the commission believed there was enough evidence to prosecute them.

However, more evidence of fraud will likely to be exposed during the trial, Manik said.

Operation history

“The Maldives receives subsidised oil from OPEC nations, thanks to its 100 percent Sunni Muslim population. The Gayooms bought oil, saying it was for the Maldives, and sold it to Myanmar on the international black market. As Myanmar is facing international sanctions, the junta secretly sold the Burmese and ‘Maldivian’ oil to certain Asian countries, including a wannabe superpower,” alleged Chakrabarti, who is writing a book on Gayoom’s administration and the democratic movement that led to its fall.

“Sources in the Singapore Police said their investigation has confirmed ‘shipping fraud through the diversion of chartered vessels where oil cargo intended for the Maldives was sold on the black market creating a super profit for many years,’” the report added.

Referencing an unnamed Maldivian cabinet Minister, The Week stated that: “what is becoming clear is that oil tankers regularly left Singapore for the Maldives, but never arrived here.”

According to The Week, Grant Thorton’s report identifies Myanmar businessman and head of the Kanbawza Bank and Kanbawza Football Club, Aung Ko Win, as the middleman acting between the Maldivian connection and Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, the second highest-ranking member of the Burmese junta – one of the world’s most oppressive regimes, perhaps exceeded only by North Korea.

Also allegedly implicated in the Grant Thorton report are Brigader-General Lun Thi, the junta’s Minister of Energy, Aung Thaung, the Burmese Minister of industry, “and his son, Major Pye Aung, who is married to Aye’s daughter, Nander Aye.”

“Another Burmese business couple, Tun Myint Naing (aka ‘Steven Law’) and his wife, were linked to the Gayooms,” alleged The Week.

According to a 2000 report on the Golden Triangle Opium trade by Hong Kong-based regional security analysis firm, Asia Pacific Media Services, “in 1996 Steven Law was refused a visa to the USA on suspicion of involvement in narcotics trafficking”, and several companies linked to him were blacklisted because of his suspected involvement in his father’s drug empire.

His father, Lo Hsing Han, also known as Law Sit Han, is named in the report as a notorious ‘Golden Triangle’ heroin baron turned businessman, with financial ties to Singapore. He was also responsible for arranging a lavish wedding in 2006 for the daughter of Burmese dictator Than Shwe.

“Lo Hsing-han and his family set up the Asia World Company… involved in import-export business, bus transport, housing and hotel construction, a supermarket chain, and Rangoon’s port development,” APMS wrote.

According to The Week’s report, “Yameen was allegedly aided by Muneez, and by Mohamed Manik.”

The operation continued with fuel purchased by STO Singapore from companies including Shell Eastern Petroleum Pvt Ltd, Singapore Petroleum Company and Petronas, and sold mostly to the STO (for Maldivian consumption) and Myanmar, “except in 2002, when the bulk of the revenue came from Malaysia.”

The “first red flag” appeared in an audit report on the STO by KPMG, one of the four major international auditing firms which took over the STO’s audits in 2004 from Price WaterhouseCoopers.

Investigators learned that Mocom Trading was set up in February 2004 as a joint venture and had four shareholders: Kamal Bin Rashid, a Burmese national, Maldivians Fathimath Ashan and Sana Mansoor, and a Malaysian man named Raja Abdul Rashid Bin Raja Badiozaman. Badiozaman was the Chief of Intelligence for the Malaysian armed forces for seven years and a 34 year veteran of the military, prior to his retirement in 1995 at the rank of Lieutenant General.

As well as the four shareholders, former Managing Director of STO Singapore Ahmed Muneez served as director. The Week reported that Muneez informed investigators that Mocom Corportation was one of four companies with a tender to sell oil to the Burmese junta, alongside Daewoo, Petrocom Energy and Hyandai.

Under the contract, wrote The Week, “STO Singapore was to supply Mocom Trading with diesel. But since Mocom Corporation held the original contact, the company was entitled to commission of nearly 40 percent of the profits.”

That commission was to be deposited in a United Overseas Bank account in Singapore, “a US dollar account held solely by Rashid. So, the books would show that the commission was being paid to Mocom, but Rashid would pocket it.”

In a second example cited by The Week, investigators discovered that “STO Singapore and Mocom Trading duplicated sales invoices to Myanmar. The invoices showed the number of barrels delivered and the unit price. Both sets of invoices were identical, except for the price per barrel. The unit price on the STO Singapore invoices was US$5 more than the unit price of the Mocom Trading invoice. This was done to confuse auditors.”

As a result, “the sum total of all Mocom Trading invoices to Myanmar Petrochemical Enterprises was US$45,751,423, while the sum total of the invoices raised by STO Singapore was US$51,423,523 – a difference of US$5,672,100.”

Furthermore, “investigators found instances where bills of lading (indicating receipt of consignment) were unsigned by the ship’s master.

Despite his officially stepping down from the STO in 2005,  the Grant Thorton report says that debit notes in Singapore “show payments made on account of Yameen in 2007 and 2008.”

“The debit notes were created as a result of receiving funds from Mr Yameen deposited at the STO head office, which were then transferred to STO Singapore’s bank accounts. This corresponded with a document received from STO head office confirming the payments were deposited by Yameen into STO’s bank accounts via cheque.

“In conversation with Mr Muneez, this was to provide monies for the living expenses of his [Yameen’s] son and daughter, both studying in Singapore. Their living expenses were distributed by Mr Muneez,” the Grant Thorton report stated.

In a previous interview with Minivan News, Yameen confirmed that he had used the STO’s accounts to send money to his children in Singapore, “and I have all the receipts.”

He at the time described the then STO head in Singapore as “a personal friend”, and said “I always paid the STO in advance. It was a legitimate way of avoiding foreign exchange [fees]. The STO was not lending me money.”

He denied sending money following his departure from the organisation: “After I left, I did not do it. In fact I did not do it 3 to 4 years before leaving the STO. I used telegraphic transfer.”

Yameen described the wider allegations contained in The Week article as “absolute rubbish”, and denied being under investigation by the Singaporean police saying that he had friends in Singapore who would have informed him if that were the case.

The article, he said, was part of a smear campaign orchestrated by current President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, a freelance writer and the dismissed Auditor General “now in London”, who he claimed had hired the audit team – “they spent two weeks in the STO in Singapore conducting an investigation.”


23 thoughts on “Presidential Commission forwards Yameen’s alleged US$800 million illegal oil trade for prosecution”

  1. How about that ICJ Australian-Branch President eh?

    Some guy.

    He's cleared up a lot of things for us. Our judiciary is fairly competent and just needs sustained efforts at strengthening.

    Also, Judge Abdulla Mohamed has not broken the law and the Nasheed government is clearly acting like babies because they cannot stomach the independent decisions of a free judge.

    Thank you ICJ.

  2. I do seriously hope that the Commission has "enough" evidence before putting Yaamin on trial. Otherwise, it will be the biggest blunder they'll ever make.

    If Yaamin walks free from such a trial, he will have gained all the publicity he ever wanted and will be a launchpad for his 2013 campaign. I hope the Commission is not stupid enough to do that! I don't have faith in these Commissions.

  3. Looks like the 800 Million case has a habit of popping up whenever Nasheed's Government is in pressure. For god's sake, instead of prosecuting the case on the media, why not sue the related people in Singapore and Malaysia as the transactions took place in these countries and the companies were registered there. I still feel this is a classic Wag the Dog case.

    I don't have any doubt that transactions took place, and people must have made money but Yameen being the shrewd person he is, it is highly unlikely there will be anything which can pin him. If sufficient evidence was available to link him, this case would have been closed and Yameen would be behind bars by now.

  4. hoon alhe yaameentha. meena dhen varah goooas vaane. he took $800million. Reeko, thimarafushi musthafa, maria, alhan and boom boom vomits this story everytime someone talks about their corruption.

    corruption,corruption and more corruption. thats what all political parties in maldives will do and want to continue to do.

  5. Yaameen left the country and he is not going to come back. He is going to enjoy his money in Singapore, where he has million dollar houses under different names.

  6. The case against Yamen is very weak as it stands.

    As Ahmed from Addu said, litigation might not be the best choice if they cannot pin a solid case on the PPM PG leader. Also, very little damage would be caused to Yamen's person if one is concerned about public perception among the local populace.

    The case is hard to understand and the legal acrobatics required to pin the blame on any wrongdoing mainly on Yamen makes explaining the suit even harder.

  7. Actually they have a lot on Yameen. They have enough to file a case against him in Singapore.
    That is why it was done so quietly. There was a lot of electronic trails of the business conducted and they made a mistake in doing this from Singapore. Maybe if they had done this from the Caribbean islands it may have been more difficult.
    I also do not think this is litigation and this is probably a criminal investigation and therefore not litigation.

  8. Why was the OPEC countries oil to 100% Sunni Muslim Maldives shipped from Singapore? Were there no refineries in the Arab Sunni world from where it would have been cheaper to ship to Maldives?

    Looks like Arab Sunni countries wanted to give Singapore refineries some profit by shipping subsidized oil from there to Maldives.

  9. Yameen already packed his luggage and is on the run....Is this rocket science for people not to understand why Maumoon & Yameen diapered from the scene.

  10. A man who is content with transferring his son's school fees from a State Owned Enterprise account to save on foreign exchange is preaching the nation about good governance? good god!

    isn't this use of state resources for personal gain, a matter that should be taken up by ACC!!!

    yeah of course it is a small matter compared to $800 million fraud, but yet, the principle issue is one and the same isn't it.

  11. Singapore government was not very cooperative with this investigation because they knowingly flouted the UN embargo. Besides the commission was dumb enough to keep Muneez in Singapore allowing him to destroy thousands of documents. This was day light robbery. The money is kept with Yaameen's friends of Henveiru Eggamuge, where former MD of STO Maniku lived all his life. Other funds were transferred Shaheen Hameed's account and kept in New Zealand where he holds permanent residency. Rest in Malaysia with M. Hinton Nashid's a/c. A small part was invested in a Hong Kong a/c of Phillip Morris

  12. Amazing how many of the comments here make up their own imaginery stories. I hope whether Yameen, Gayoom or Muneez each and everyone deserve a fair trial provided the presidential commission has enough evidence.
    Commordity trading does have switch BL, sales commission etc and wonder anyone in presidential commission knows about it. Truth will prevail only in the rule of law and not with man of law.
    There is no reason SG govt to be not cooperative but if the bussiness was conducted according the laws of Singapore and proper audits are conducted there is no reason for them to investigate. I wonder if Maldivian Govt has made a police report of even reported to CPIB.
    By the way Kotte Saeed now in charge of STO oil company is making more bucks and enjoing a pay of SGD 10,000 per month.
    President Nasheed's UK class mate Jude is running show.

  13. Giving subsidized oil to Maldives is based on the deep principle of Islamic Azhabbiya and Sadaqah. Yes there are MANY corrupt in the Gulf. Yet I have lived with Bedu from Bani Tamim itself, yes, the tribe from the Najd from which Al-Mamlaka Al-Arrabiya Al-Sauddiya arose, and there are Princes who take their obligation towards Islamic Charity extremely seriously. For them, a good Muslim should go way beyond the legal requirements of the annual Zakat, the Qur'an makes MANY appeals to charity, as does the Hadith.

    The gravity of the sanctity of this sacred charity is... Astaghfillah MAy Allah forgive me if I have fallen short of this I feel tears rising to my eyes contemplating how sacred this is...

    Read the Hadith about the severe punishment in Jahannum of those who use sadaqah, that which is intended for the benefit of the Masakin (the poor and the oppressed) for their own benefit.

    Many are said to burn IMMMENSELY for taking a morsel of that which is intended to revive the dignity of poor and oppressed.

    Read the MANY Ayat and Ahadith which condemn tyrants, those who store wealth, those who are greedy.

    Did you know that our beloved Nabi (SAW) and his Family, and the first four Calipha, and all the rightly guided Suhhaba and Rashiudun, near starved in the last years of their lives so that Muslims could eat...

    The gift of oil is committed as a sacred trust. It is meant in the following spirit.

    'A Muslim is not a Muslim unless he desires for himself that which he does not desire for his Brother..."

    Anybody, whose has the right Niyat (intention), or a good Al-Qulp (heart) should BURN with sorrow at what Yameen has done. He has abused, exploited, degraded, misused this sacred trust and has viciously violated every islamic principle of equity, love and brotherhood which his Brother claims to stand for!

    I would never dare say that Yameen is not a Muslim. As I have said, in the Judgement, Allah's Mercy is greater than what we could ever imagine.

    Yet there is, in Islam, also JUSTICE, and there are a number of Arabic words for Justice and equity (ADL) with many different meanings.

    Think of how cruel and vicious Yameen can be, ask those who have seen his dark side, such as myself, and we will tell you, what he does is the most sacriligious violation of every humanitarian and Islamic principle that there is!

    We are called, in NO uncertain terms, to struggle against such greed, cruelty, and tyranny on many different levels, with our whole selves! Of course, as I always say, resort to Al-qitallu or Al-Harb in the name of JHD in this day and age is an abuse and a degradation of this sacred princible of JHD (holistic struggle) unless innocent ppl are being killed and we have done EVERTYTHING in our power to prevent it!

    YET It is Imperative that Yameen expreiences the full weight of the law for the henious inhumanity and sacrilege! As so called 100 percent MUSLIMS I would be shocked and appalled if you also did not burn with sorrow for those Yameen has ROBBED, the poor, the oppressed, those whom that oil was meant to benefit!

    Anyone who cannot see that Yameen deserves justice is completely Merciless and heartless! It would be a neglect of Islamic duty to fail to PUSH for Yameen to be charged. His punishment on this Dunya will be an expiation of his sins and his chance to enter jannah, so please, for the benefit of even Yameen, we must push for JUSTICE!

    Justice would be simply this, he would be forced to have to return the money he stole. For his family's sake, and even for his sake, I do not wish any harm to come to him or his beautiful family.

  14. I only chose to bring in a religious perspective to demonstrate that it is not only the opposition who can be so dirty so as to use the religious card in this struggle! Seems you all choose to use the religious card in a sacrilegous, dirty manner to express your venomous lust for power, know THIS!

    Islam should only be used in the Maldives to build Mercy and Unity between the Dhivehin or else it makes the Majestic religion of Islam look dirty. Islam is beautiful because it creates unity and solidarity, love and caring between, amongst the oppressed. Yet you all make it into a weapon to create fitnah, it makes Islam look divisive and ugly!

    But be warned, you, the opposition are not the only ones who can play the religious card.

    The Government have tried to keep religion out of this conflict, not wanting to degrade it!

    I just wanted to give small example that if the Government wanted, they could also play dirty, yet Alhumdulillah!! THEY DON"T!!!

    KEEP RELIGION OUT OF IT!!!! It is an easy, cheap card to play, anyone can use religion as a weapon, but seems we are all Zulm in our own way, every religious knife we throw comes back at us two fold!

  15. Why is minivan not reporting crucial news to Maldives. Elsewhere it has been reported that Qatar Airways is threatening to stop flying to Maldives because GMR has hiked up the handling charge at Male International Airport by 51%.

    This is daylight robbery and it is time that all Maldivians get together and take-over the airport now. We all can pay the 75 million GMR paid to this government and nationalise it now before they spend more money on the airport.
    These people would destroy Maldives. Yet all these people get out and protest about some corrupt judge in custody.

  16. oh pls dont file this case before the judiciary is clean, otherwise it would take few seconds by the courts to state that theres no evidence and yaameen will be inncocent and free. damn this country, i wish there would be an independent juduciary rather than this dictatorial judiciary.

  17. There is no such thing as a democratic judiciary dear nat.

    The judiciary is meant to keep a long distance from populist politics. Judges do not rule according to the people's wishes. They rule according to the law and the dictates of technical policy.

    If what you want is a judiciary that makes decisions like Fast Food franchises devise their menus I think you need to construct your own system of governance rather than try and follow age-old concepts.

  18. Tsk tsk, you support someone who protects paedophiles and murderers. You disgust me.

  19. @Shahid;

    See Shahid that is the problem. Where in any of my comments have I supported murder or pedophilia?

    That kind of mud-slinging is better left to our political leaders. Engaging debate means that you have to come up with reasoned statements.

    Am I wrong in saying that the judiciary cannot swing towards pleasing the public? They uphold the law and hence they are in fact those who hold institutions and the public to standards that human nature tries to defy. All of us want money, power, status, love and comfort. The judiciary makes sure that in doing so we stay within certain boundaries set by laws, rules and regulations.

    A large portion of those agitating against the judiciary are members of the public and political figures who are unhappy with the judiciary because of rulings issued against them; because of natural delays in delivering justice due to administrative and structural issues within the judiciary that can only be solved through efforts at strengthening the judiciary; because of political speeches given by individuals who just want fame and personal advancement.

    A judiciary cannot be destroyed and replaced from top to bottom. We do not have the human resource to replace the judiciary altogether. Heck we don't have the qualified human resource to man most of the stations created by our ambitious Constitution. Developing such resource does not mean churning out undergraduates from a factory line. Judges need to be experienced in the legal field. That disqualifies most of the Ali Husseins, Imthiyaz Fahmys, Alhan Fahmys and Ahmed Abdulla Afeefs out there.

  20. Yamin said that they could never catch him no matter how hard they try because, he thought that Abdulla ghazee would be there forever to cover his case . But once the government has focused to reform the judiciary they all were sick and flew to Singapore for treatment. They underestimated president Nasheed , they thought that the government would not realise the game they were playing,.

    We believe the axecutive and the people's majlis have reached the standards in a democratic government but the judiciary remains unchanged as it was under the dictatorship . This is a very good step and the last element left in the process of reform in the Maldives

    I have no doubt president Mohamed Nasheed will do this for the betterment of the nation
    Thank you HEP Mohamed Nasheed

  21. @Tsk tsk: Your arrogance has finally rendered you completely ignorant. Bills are enacted through the Parliament by MP's who are elcted "BY THE PEOPLE" and the Judges must uphold those laws, not their own LAWS or Yameen's Laws.

    Because your ppl are 100 percent Muslim, these laws must exist within an extremely vaguely understood context of Shariah LAW (the dispute over the correct application and interpretation of Shariah Law in creating legislation reflects the democratic character of your Majlis, it is not Shariah LAW according to Anni, Hassan Saeed or Maumoon, or Sheik Ilyas, it is Shariah Law according according to democratically understood Maldivian custom.)

    This means that you are meant to have, and must create, a democratic judiciary, so that your judiciary do not serve the venomous lust for power of tyrants.

    Salaams to you Brother!


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