The civil court yesterday ordered luxury yachting company Sultans of the Seas to pay over Rf654 million (US$50 million) in unpaid loans, fines and accumulated interest to the Bank of Maldives (BML) in the course of one year.
Ruling in favour of the bank, Judge Aisha Shujoon said the company was liable for loans of US$15.3 million, US$8.7 million and €12.5 million as well as US$500,000 in combined credit limit facilities as agreed upon in June 2008.
The judge ruled that records and documents presented to court proved that as of 7 December, Sultans owes US$18 million on the first demand loan, US$10 million on the second and €14 million on the third.
Sultans would have to pay the loans back in monthly instalments of about US$4.2 million, the court ruled. If the company failed to make the payments by 7 December 2010, yachts and property mortgaged by the company will be sold in auction after a 15 day period.
Minivan News was unavailable to reach senior officials of the company for a comment today.
In the BML audit report released in January, Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem revealed that defaults on bank loans issued to influential political players could jeopardise the entire financial system of the country.
Over 60 per cent of the US$633 million worth of loans issued in 2008 was granted to 12 parties, the report said.
According to the report, US$45 million was granted to Sultans of the Seas and US$36 million to Fonnadhoo Tuna Products, which comprised 13 per cent of the total loan amount in 2008.
It notes that Fonaddhoo is owned by Kendhoo MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, a former minister and now parliamentary group leader of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, while the owners of Sultans of the Seas were closely associated with the DRP deputy leader.
In September, Maldives Customs filed a case at civil court to recover US$8.5 million from Sultans of the Seas in unpaid duties and fines for allegedly defrauding customs to import two luxury yachts.