BML makes first quarter profit of MVR 199 million

The Bank of Maldives (BML) has published it’s first quarter results with an operating profit of MVR 199 million, an increase of 35% over the previous quarter.

Income grew by 10% and costs were controlled, the BML said.

The loan book grew by MVR 199 million in the quarter and loan book quality continued to strengthen, and deposits were up 17%, their press statement read.

Speaking on their success, CEO and Managing Director Andrew Healy stated, “we must not get carried away, however. Our Bank still has work to do to build a sustainable earnings base – much of our growth in profits over recent times has been due to loan recoveries – and we know that customer service standards are not yet at the level that we and our customers expect.”

Referring to the Bank’s IT modernisation programme, Healy continued “We are in the middle of a major IT and Training investment programme which will help transform how we deliver our services, including in the Atolls. Much of our technology was outdated and inflexible and is being replaced.”

“The changes we are bringing about will take time to bed down and there will inevitably be some disruption to services as we implement new systems over the rest of 2014. However, ultimately we will have a much better bank that is capable of meeting the highest international standards in every way”.


Sheesha brothers file case to retrieve stolen funds from State Bank of India

The Sheesha brothers have have filed a case with the Civil Court to implement the court’s January 16 ruling which had ordered the State Bank of India (SBI) to pay them MVR13.5 million plus interest within one month.

During a press conference held yesterday the brothers and their lawyer Abdul Nasir Ibrahim revealed that SBI had not paid the money to the company according to a Civil Court ruling, and that the court had now accepted the case.

On January 16, the Civil Court had ruled that SBI had to pay the brothers’ motorcycle importing company MVR13.5 million outstanding from the total MVR18 million that had been discovered missing from its account in November 2011 after a series of unauthorised transfers.

Nasir said yesterday that he had met with SBI before filing the lawsuit and that the bank had told him that it would transfer the money only if the Civil Court deemed that the previous court ruling should be implemented.

Nasir told the press yesterday that, although SBI had the right to appeal the Civil Court ruling at the High Court, ruling was now in existence and had to be implemented unless the High Court rules otherwise.

Having met with the Maldives Monetary Authority governor – then Dr Fazeel Najeeb – regarding the issue, Sheesha’s lawyer had been told to find a solution through the courts. Nasir also called on the MMA to take action against SBI for not implementing the Civil Court’s ruling.

Following the discovery of the unauthorised removal of the funds, the company – owned by Ahmed Hassan Manik, Hussain Husham, and Ibrahim Husham – told local media that the money had been transferred to a Bank of Maldives account using a forged document faxed to SBI with Manik’s name and signature.

The brothers said they would sue SBI and requested that the bank take full responsibility for the theft – which had comprised of two transactions totalling MVR18 million.

The Prosecutor General’s Office pressed charges against seven people in connection with the case in May 2013, including a retired Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) colonel, and two staff members from SBI.

In November 2011, the Criminal Court issued an Interpol red notice to apprehend three persons suspected to be involved in the case.

Local newspapers at the time reported that Colonel Shaukath Ibrahim’s bank account was used to transfer the money and to withdraw it.

Yesterday, Sheesha’s lawyer told the press that the Civil Court had ruled SBI had neglected its responsibilities and that its negligence had caused the loss of the company’s MVR18million.

Of the total MVR18 million stolen, local media has reported that the company was able to recover MVR4.4 million from the Bank of Maldives account that the money had been transferred to.


New Bank of Maldives CEO appointed as managing director

The Bank of Maldives has announced the appointment of current CEO Andrew Healy as its new Managing Director.

Healy joined the bank as CEO last month, being appointed by the government to the board of directors on February 6. The decision was made during Monday’s board meeting.

A BML press release today detailed Healy’s 18 years of experience in the retail and commercial banking sectors with both the National Bank of Ireland and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Healy replaces British national Peter Horton, who resigned from the post last August after two years in charge.

BML recently announced net profits of MVR667 million in 2013, showing a growth of 78% compared to 2012. The bank paid its shareholders the first dividend since 2008 in November of last year.


BML to sell mortgaged property of former Defence Minister

Bank of Maldives (BML) has announced that it will be auctioning off the mortgaged land Araaroot Villa in Maafannu ward – a property owned by former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaan, and his brothers Ahmed Hashim, Mohamed Habeeb and Abdulla Shah Ibrahim Kaleyfaan.

The Bank stated that the property has been put up for sale due to the failure of Tholhath and his brother to pay back a loan of 6.6 million rufiya (USD 427740) taken from the bank.

The Civil Court ruled in September that BML can sell the mortgaged property if the loan is not paid back in a period of three months.

According to BML, proposals to purchase the property must be submitted before 1330hrs on January 5, 2014. The highest bidder, on condition that the price stays constant for 5 consecutive days of bidding, will then be given a period of 10 days to complete the payment.

Should the highest bidder fail to pay in the given period, BML has the authority to either rebid the property or sell it to the second highest bidder.


BML urges customers to keep PINs secret

The Bank of Maldives (BML) has urged its customers to keep their personal identification numbers to themselves after thieves withdrew large sums from multiple ATMs in the capital Male’.

”It is very common in the Maldives to share the pin number of their cards, for example when paying a bill at a restaurant the customer might handover the card and pin number,” a BML spokesman told Minivan News.

‘We appeal all of our customers to stop sharing their pin number with anyone.”

Police have started searching for a group of expats who are alleged to have taken money from many different BML accounts without the knowledge of the owners.

The police uploaded video footage of the two expats while they were in the act of withdrawing money from one of the BML ATM machines.

Police said that they used different machines at different locations in Male’ to withdraw, stealing large amounts of money on 17 and 18 October.

Police appealed the public to share any information regarding the two expats and asked anyone with information to contact the police hotline (3322111) or the police economic crime department (9790048). If on an island, police asked individuals to inform the island council or island police station.

Protection was assured to anyone able to provide information on the case.

A spokesman from BML today told Minivan News that these type of cases occur most of the time because customers share their pin number with people.

He noted that a lot of times women will share their PIN number with close friends and have them withdraw money or use the card, and that most of the time customers have neither mobile alerts nor use internet banking to track their transactions.

The spokesperson stated that the details of the case could not be revealed while police are investigating the case, but did note that the bank would reimburse account holders if it was found to be at fault for any lost money.


Parliament agrees extension of STELCO overdraft guarantee with BML

Parliament has today agreed to extend a government guarantee on a MVR 50 million (US$ 3.2 million) overdraft facility with Bank of Maldives (BML) for the State Electric Company (STELCO) until March 2014, according to local media.

The extension was passed with 31 votes in favour to 17 against, Sun Online has reported.
A total of 48 MPs took part in today’s vote.

The overdraft guarantee, which had originally been approved through parliament in September 2009, had been sent to expire this year.

Despite the extension agreement, STELCO last month revealed that the government owed MVR 543 million (US$35.2 million) in unpaid electricity bills as of May 2013.

According to the company, most of the money (MVR 281 million/US$18.2 million) is owed by assorted government offices. Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) owes MVR 37 million (US$2.4 million) and the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) owes MVR 224 (US$14.5 million).

STELCO, which is wholly owned by the government, is the country’s sole provider of electricity to major urban centres, such as Male’, and many inhabited islands.


Bank of Maldives sues MP Ali Azim over unpaid loan

The Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (BML) has sued MP Ali Azim and his father over MVR 3.8 million (US$246,433) unpaid from a loan taken by the pair in 2007 for the construction of the New Queen residence in Henveiru.

According to newspaper Haveeru, Azim and his father claimed at court that the bank raised the interest rate on the loan without prior notice.

Although the pair claimed that they were informed of the interest rate hike a year later, the bank denied the claim.

BML lawyers claimed that Azim and his father was duly informed of the rate hike, which the bank imposed due to nonpayment of loans by Fonnadoo Tuna Products and Mahandhoo Investment.

The MP for mid-Henveiru owns a stake in both companies and had signed the loan agreement as a guarantor.

The Civil Court concluded hearings into Azim’s loan case yesterday (June 17) and informed the parties that a verdict would be delivered at the final hearing.

Following nonpayment of five loans guaranteed by MPs Azim and Ahmed Nashiz, BML is currently in the process of selling mortgaged assets.

Moreover, a case is pending at the Supreme Court concerning the legal status of the MPs as the constitution states that a member of parliament with a decreed debt that was not being paid in accordance with a court judgment shall lose their seats.

MP Ali Azim recently switched from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).


Political instability is key concern at Maldives renewable energy investment conference

Participants attending this week’s Maldives International Renewable Energy Investors Conference consider the event a “good beginning”, but claimed political instability was presently hampering foreign investors’ confidence in the sector.

The two day event, which concluded yesterday (June 17), aimed to facilitate long-term partnerships between international investors, project developers, energy companies and utilities groups in order to enable successful renewable energy projects throughout the Maldives.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy hosted conference at Bandos Island Resort and Spa in an effort to boost investor confidence and attract renewable energy financing.

Although Environment Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela noted that the conference was successful, she also urged participants to “reflect on our mutual needs” and emphasised that investments will be “protected, facilitated, and supported by the government” during her concluding speech yesterday.

“Your need to promote your [renewable energy] products and our need to reduce energy costs – that of course is a huge issue as was mentioned here so many times – and also of course to combat climate change,” said Shakeela.

“We currently rely extensively on imported fossil fuels, as we have heard here over and over and over again these last few days. Yet paradoxically, many islands have ample but underutilized renewable energy resource potential,” she continued.

“The Ministry of Finance and Treasury is working to create an enabling environment for investments in general, which I believe is a concern of a lot of investors,” she added.

Meanwhile, Maldives-based representatives from the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) present at the conference pledged their continued support in an effort to attract renewable energy investors.

ADB Director Mr Yongping Zhai pledged to “go as far as it costs” to transform Maldives into a renewable energy dependent country, as opposed to oil dependent, according to the Environment Ministry.

However, he noted that although the Maldives has the commitment, market potential, resources, and willing investors for renewable energy, there is a “missing link to put these pieces together”.

“In theory things should work, but why things are not working so far is [the lack of] the right business model,” said Zhai. “That’s the purpose of this conference and of the ADB’s work.”

The WB considered the conference to be a “good initial first information gathering” event for facilitating renewable energy investments and emphasized that it was working very closely with the Maldives government to develop the energy sector and national financial institutions, said WB Senior Energy Specialist Abdulaziz Faghi.

In an effort to boost investor confidence, the Environment Ministry emphasised the WB would guarantee any investments made in the Maldives.

“One of the issues facing the private sector investing in any sector is the payment guarantee and their concern with the return on investment,” State Minister for Environment and Energy Abdul Matheen Mohamed told Minivan News yesterday.

He explained that the government of Maldives has allocated US$5 million from the International Development Association (IDA) financing though the World Bank, which will be leveraged up to US$ 25 million.

“So basically the World Bank will be issuing a guarantee for this amount to give guarantees to the investors investing [funds] under the scaling-up renewable energy program (SREP) investment plan,” said Matheen.

He noted that conference participants concerns have “been resolved though the guarantee facilities introduced by the World Bank”.

Foreign investors lacking

Following the conference yesterday, Renewable Energy Maldives Managing Director Dr Ibrahim Nashid told Minivan News that he believed banks and foreign investors crucial to revitalising the national energy “didn’t turn up” at the event.

“The main idea was to bring investors here, but I don’t think that has happened,” said Nashid.

He explained that while Maldives-based institutional representatives from the WB, ADB, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and various other Maldivian institutions attended the conference, individuals with authority to authorize lending and/or donor funds were not present.

“Basically there wasn’t any financial institution that could give the finance or lend the money,” said Nashid. “No international banks came and what is very noticeable there wasn’t Indian investors. Not a single Indian company was represented.”

“ADB was saying they have earmarked funds for the Maldives, but their idea was also to leverage that with some other lending institution and that was not there,” he added.

Nashid noted that none of the Maldivian banks were present at the conference.

“The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was there, but not the Islamic Bank in Male’, even the Bank of Maldives didn’t attend,” said Nashid.

“It shows the confidence that everybody has, [which is] the reason the World Bank is talking about giving a bank guarantee,” he continued.

Although Minister Shakeela was asked many times about what the government would do to guarantee investments “she skirted the question saying the ADB and WB is giving the guarantee,” according to Nashid.

“That was not the issue, the issue is what happens to our investments,” he said. “The GMR case is very very open and obvious to everyone. The issue of political instability was very much skirted, [but] everybody knew.”

Nashid claimed that most conference participants who discussed renewable energy investments said a decision would not happen until after the presidential election scheduled for September.

“We need political stability here, without political stability I don’t think any project is going to take off,” said Nashid.

“We can do the preparation of paperwork, etc. but money will not be put on the table. That’s the message we get from abroad,” he added.

These sentiments were echoed by conference participants representing various private sector businesses.

“It was a good start, but this is really just a beginning. There were not very many investors present,” an infrastructure company representative told Minivan News on condition of anonymity.

“The three things investors are looking for are credibility, stability, and return on the investment,” a telecommunications company representative told Minivan News on condition of anonymity.

The source explained that political instability was the main concern preventing investors from committing to renewable energy development. He also agreed with another conference participant’s observation that political instability in the Maldives was the ‘elephant in the room’ at the event.

“There were very few investors present, which is not surprising. No one is going to be eager to invest [in developing renewable energy] until after elections,” he added.


Amana Takaful posts MVR 4.5 million profit since Maldives Stock Exchange float

Sharia-compliant insurance company Amana Takaful (Maldives) PLC has announced a cumulative profit of MVR 4.5 Million (US$292,208) since listing on the Maldives Stock Exchange back in 2011.

Following the company’s second annual general meeting held Sunday (April 28), Amana Takaful  said a 10 percent dividend of MVR 2.6 million (US$168,831) would be paid among its Maldives-based shareholder members for the group’s performance during 2012.

Growth for the company during last year was said to be driven in particular by demand for medical and motor insurance following amendments to government regulations that has seen a number of insurers moving to offer 3rd party coverage in these areas.

A spokesperson for the company claimed that 3rd party motor cover was anticipated to continue to help drive growth for its Maldives operations in the coming years as a result of recent legislation imposed on the country’s motorists.

During its AGM, Amana Takaful also announced an underwriting result – earnings from premiums after deducting the costs of operating expenses and insurance claims – of MVR 20.7 million (US$1.3 million). This was said to be a 61 percent increase on the previous year.

As well as Sharia-compliant insurance, a growing number of private groups in the Maldives have moved to offer Islamic financing to their customers.

Specialist groups such as the Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) are set to be joined in the segment by Bank of Maldives (BML), which this month announced the appointment of a four-member Sharia Advisory Committee.