Bank of Maldives introduces new loan scheme for teachers

The Bank of Maldives launched a new loan scheme today dedicated for Maldivian teachers and lecturers, offering loans up to MVR100,000 for a period of five years.

The new scheme offers teachers loans ranging from MVR 50,000 to MVR 100,000 at a 15 percent interest rate per year, the national bank said today.

“The purpose of the loan is to encourage the development of teachers, whether it is a training program or further studies or to purchase additional equipment such as laptops,” reads a statement by the bank.

Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham praised the bank for its contribution to the development of teachers.

“Teachers play a pivotal role in our community by nurturing, moulding and shaping the future generations of the nation. As the national bank, we’re proud to launch this customised loan product for this special group of people in our society,” said the bank’s CEO and managing director, Andrew Healy.


BML increases its banking fees

The Bank of Maldives (BML) has increased its fees for rufiyaa and US dollar accounts starting from last Thursday (January 1), reports Haveeru.

The national bank is reported to have increased the minimum amount of money to be held in the accounts from MVR100 to MVR200 in rufiyaa accounts, and from US$10 to US$50 in dollar accounts.

According to Haveeru, a new schedule of charges released by BML states that current and savings accounts are now opened with a fee of MVR200, while dollar accounts are opened with a fee of US$50.

In addition, BML is to charge inactive rufiyaa accounts with MVR30 per month while charging US$3 from dollar accounts.

Haveeru also reported that the bank has decided to charge MVR5 for transactions under MVR10,000 at bank counters while charging US$1 for transactions under US$640.

Source: Haveeru


BML to sell Reethi Beach Resort and Mahandhoo island

The Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (BML) has made an announcement seeking buyers for the Reethi Beach Resort and the island of Mahandhoo.

BML had seized the 120-bed Reethi Beach Resort and 87-bed Gaaf Alif Mahandhoo – currently under development as a resort – following non-payment of loans by Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments.

Both companies have ties to former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

The Civil Court had authorised the bank to sell the mortgaged properties in October 2009 and the rulings were subsequently upheld by the High Court upon appeal.

While the High Court decision was appealed at the Supreme Court, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement in June 2013.

BML has reportedly assigned Singapore-based Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) to oversee the bidding process.


BML to issue visa debit cards to all Maldivian customers

Bank of Maldives Pvt Ltd (BML) has announced that it will be issuing visa debit cards to all Maldivian customers from July 2014.

The bank currently only issues the card to holders of dollar accounts at the bank.

The bank stated that while the card will be issued to all Maldivians, students studying abroad will be given higher priority.

Customers using a visa debit card will be allowed to withdraw a maximum of MVR10,000 locally and US$200 from ATMs in foreign countries.


BML and Islamic Bank offer advise for Maldivians travelling abroad

The Maldives Islamic Bank has announce provisions to sell US dollars to Maldivians travellign abroad, while the Bank of Maldives (BML) has advised those journeying abroad not to carry cash.

A press release from the Islamic Bank said that, from today (June 5), customers with a valid air ticket and national ID could purchase up to US$500.

A heavy import-export imbalance in the Maldives results in a perennial foreign currency shortage, while a dominant tourism sector – which deals almost exclusively in US dollars – results in a weak local currency.

BML has meanwhile advised customers that using its debit and credit cards abroad is recommended.

BML has found that some customers become frustrated if their debit or credit card appears to have been declined when abroad. Cards will almost always be accepted if the amount being transacted is within the cardholder’s limit.

BML visa debit card holders can currently withdraw up to US$200 a day, while point of sale transactions have a US$400 limit, explained today’s press release.


BML aims to provide basic banking services to all islands by 2017

The Bank of Maldives Pvt Ltd has announced it will provide basic banking services to all inhabited islands in the Maldives by 2017.

Speaking at the national bank’s annual general meeting on May 29, CEO Andrew Healy said these services would include cash deposits, cash withdrawals, transfers and payments.

By December 10, 50 islands that do not have banking services will receive cash withdrawal services. BML intends to install card machines in retail and other outlets on islands.

“Today’s announcement reflects our steadfast commitment to expand banking services to all parts of the country and in particular to reach out to the remote islands. This financial inclusion programme will take time to roll out but 50 islands will benefit this year and we will be in a position to announce more details on these over the next few months,” Healy said.

The bank’s three-year strategy, unveiled at the AGM, said it will focus on financial inclusion, customer service and support for businesses.

BML will introduce a new business banking unit where each business customer is to be assigned a dedicated relationship manager and dedicated counters are to be allocated for business customers.

The bank also plans to launch Islamic banking services by the end of this year.

If the targetted progress is made, BML will be in a position to consider international expansion in 2017, a press release by the bank said.

On May 27, the bank announced customers will no longer have to pay for cash withdrawals from its ATMs. Customers can withdraw MVR 10,000 using the Visa Classic and American Express Green debit cards, and MVR15,000 using the American Express Gold debit cards without the previous MVR2 transaction charge.

BML customers also no longer have to pay for transferring money between different branches or accounts across the country. Previously, a charge of between MVR25 and MVR3,000 was applicable, depending on the size of the transfer.


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.


STO sells BML shares worth MVR33 million to Champa Brothers

The State Trading Organisation (STO) has sold its Bank of Maldives Plc (BML) shares worth MVR33 million (US$2.1 million) to Champa Brothers Pvt Ltd through the Maldives stock exchange.

STO MD Adam Azim told Sun Online that the shares – reportedly worth 30 percent of BML – were sold in a bid to improve the state-owned company’s finances.

“The shares were sold through the stock exchange on the open market. It was carried out in a way that anybody who wanted to buy the shares had the chance,” he was quoted as saying.

Sun Online reported back in December 2012 that Champa Brothers had purchased treasury bills worth US$11 million. The amount currently owed by the government to the company remains unclear.