The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by two companies linked to Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader and President Mohamed Waheed’s vice presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali concerning unpaid debts to the Bank of Maldives (BML), after an out-of-court settlement was reportedly reached by both parties.
Lawyers representing Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments – companies with ties to Thasmeen – told presiding Supreme Justice Ali Hameed that they had negotiated a settlement with BML over US$58 million owed to the bank, according to local media.
Mahandhoo and Kabalifaru had appealed a High Court verdict upholding a Civil Court ruling – issued three years and eight months ago – ordering the companies to settle the debt.
BML lawyers confirmed to the court that such an agreement had been reached and that they had no objection to the Supreme Court dismissing the case, private broadcaster VTV reported.
Thasmeen and the Department of Judicial Administration were not responding to calls at time of press.
Minivan News is also awaiting a response from BML, with the bank’s public relations manager Hussain Rasheed claiming he had not received official confirmation that a settlement had been reached in the case at time of press.
Today’s case was heard a day after Ahmed Faiz, a council member of President Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP), was arrested after reportedly trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice.
Media reports have not identified the judge involved in the case. However, potentially compromising photos alleged to depict Supreme Justice Ali Hameed, who oversaw today’s trial of the BML case, began circulating on social media in March this year. The images appear to show the judge in a hotel room with a woman.
In October 2011, the High Court upheld Civil Court verdicts issued in late 2009 ordering Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments to repay millions of dollars worth of loans to BML.
In the first case involving Mahandhoo Investments, BML issued a US$23.5 million demand loan, a US$103,200 bank guarantee and US$30,090 letter of credit on July 10, 2008.
The second case involved a US$3.3 million loan issued to Kabaalifaru Investment. A Civil Court verdict on September 30, 2009 ordered the company to settle the debt within 12 months.
Meanwhile, a third case involving a Civil Court verdict in December 2009 ordered luxury yachting company Sultans of the Seas – with close ties to the DRP leader – to pay over US$50 million in unpaid loans, including incurred interest and fines, was also appealed at the High Court.
In September 2009, 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, and in February 2010 the court ordered the company to pay MVR 110 million (US$7 million) as fines and unpaid import duties.
MP Thasmeen, this month appointed as the running mate of President Dr Mohamed Waheed ahead of September’s election, is himself expected to face a Supreme Court case over whether his parliamentary seat should be vacated over the issue of unpaid debts.
Former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa announced his intention this week to file a case at the country’s apex court requesting a decision on whether Thasmeen should lose his seat for not paying back loans taken from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim.
Musthafa also raised issues concerning funding taken from the Bank of Maldives by companies including Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments, in which the DRP Leader is said to be a shareholder.
Musthafa was disqualified from the parliament in 2012 over an unpaid decreed debt, which the court concluded had rendered him constitutionally ineligible to remain in the seat.
As a consequence, he argued there was precedent for the court to declare MP Thasmeen’s Kendhoo Constituency seat vacant.
On June 17, the Civil Court ordered all Thasmeen’s bank accounts of frozen, and ordered immigration to withhold his passport following a case filed by Deputy Speaker Nazim to recover a debt of MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513).
Nazim, an MP with the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), initially sued Thasmeen in March 2011 to recover the remainder of a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000).