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.


Bank of Maldives reportedly resolves US$58 million debt chase out of court

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.

Debt claims

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 filed the case requesting enforcement of a Civil Court verdict in April 2011 – upheld by the High Court in April 2013 – ordering the vice presidential candidate to pay back the money.

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).


Bank of Maldives sends MTDC notice for repayment of Herethere development loan

The Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (BML) has sent notice to the government-owned Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to settle US$17.5 million overdue from a US$25 million loan provided to develop the Herethere resort in Addu City.

According to Sun Online, while the  loan requires a payment of $435,000 per month until February next year, the government tourism was sent notice by the national bank over non-payment of US$700,000 in line with the scheduled repayments.

“We wanted to sell the resort and completely pay off the bank loan. But the company’s work has come to a halt because of the delay, as the government is unable to appoint directors to the company’s board. We want to sell the resort as soon as possible and complete the repayment of the loan,” an MTDC official was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the MTDC board of directors decided to sell its biggest asset, Herethere resort, for US$30 million to a company with a majority stake owned by local tourism magnate ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef.


Authorities plan museum of finance

Financial authorities and service providers in the Maldives yesterday (May 13) reached an agreement to establish a museum of finance within the capital over the next two years, local media has reported.

The agreement, which was signed by the Tourism Ministry, Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), the Bank of Maldives (BML), the Capital Market Development Authority (CMDA) and private enterprise Allied Insurance, was reached during a Pension Office meeting held at the Kurumba Maldives resort.

Pension Office Chief Executive Officer Hussain Manik was quoted in Sun Online as claiming that obtaining funding for the project, expected to be established in a corner of the existing National Museum building in Male’, would begin soon.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb told local media that the museum of finance would aim to provide visitors with an overview of the economic history of the Maldives.


Civil Court orders DRP MPs Azim and Nashiz to hand over mortgaged property as payment for BML loans

The Civil Court has ruled on Thursday that the properties mortgaged in relation to the Funaddoo Tuna Products unpaid loans are to be handed over to the Bank of Maldives (BML) within a period of 15 days.

The ruling permits BML to then sell the property in order to settle the payments. The mortgaged properties are Madivaru Yacht, Reethi Beach Resort and Funaddoo.

BML said in court today that as a result of delaying payment, the due amount has now risen from MVR 117 million (US$7,587,549) to MVR 206 million (US$13,359,274) , once the loan interest is added.

Representatives of the bank said in court today that the accounts of the individual guarantors have been frozen, according to local media. The guarantors are Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MPs Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz, and Ahmed Rasheed of Rafeeguge.

The bank also said that the passports of the DRP MPs have now been held, preventing them from departing the country.

BML declined from commenting on the issue at time of press as the matter is an ongoing case.

Voted against Waheed’s wishes, court summons again: MP Azim

DRP MP Ali Azim has stood by his earlier allegation that the case being carried through now is politically motivated.

The police were given an order to present MPs Nashiz and Azim to court under detention, while the hearing was scheduled for the same time as the taking of votes in parliament to approve secret balloting for impeachment votes.

The court order was first cancelled a few hours after it was issued. Police Media Official Sub-Inspector Haneef had at the time said that the reason provided by the court was that the presiding judge had been abroad, and other cases had been scheduled.

Azim stated in parliament that he had received calls from President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, President’s Political Advisor Ahmed Thaufeeg and Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza, asking him to cast the vote on secret balloting in a way they preferred. He alleged that they had offered to stop the summons if he voted in line with them.

Azim had said in parliament then that he was “not the least bit surprised” that Waheed had called, adding that Waheed had called previously for similar matters, including the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) elections.

However, the MP subsequently voted in favour of secret balloting.

The Civil Court then summoned the MPs to court again, and the hearing was held Thursday.

“We were summoned to court, and then there was the attempt to intimidate me. When I voted against his wishes, the court immediately summons me back again. I believe this is politically motivated,” Azim said today after the hearing.

DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, MP Mohamed Nashiz and Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid were not responding to calls at the time of press.


BML posts MVR 40 million profit in half year results

The Bank of Maldives (BML) has posted a MVR 40 million (US$2.6 million) net profit in its half year results to June 2012.

“This is after allocating MVR 224 million (US$14.5 million) to loan loss provisions during the first five months of the year,” the bank stated.

“At the half year operating profit reached MVR 263 million (US$17 million), an increase of 15 percent over the same period last year. Net interest income increased from MVR 223 million (US$14.5 million) in June 2011 to MVR 247 million (US$16 million) in the six months to June 2012, an 11 percent increase compared to the same period last year.”

BML stated that the results “reflected the strength of the bank and its success in dealing with non-performing loans.”

“I am very pleased to inform all our shareholders that we have returned to profit and that our Non Performing Net Assets (NPNA) provisioning is at a very comfortable level. I have for some time been very encouraged by our strong growth at an operating profit level, which has come about as a result of diversified income streams and strong cost control. We are now seeing all of these factors manifest in retained profits for the business,” said BML CEO Peter Horton.


Government must seek Majlis approval on Rf 300 million BML loan: Finance Committee

The government must obtain parliament’s approval on a Rf300 million (US$ 19.5 million) loan borrowed from the Bank of Maldives (BML) in May, People’s Majlis Counsellor General Fathmath Filza today told the Finance Committee.

The government had previously told local media the the BML loan was borrowed instead of US$65 million loan programme previously approved by the Majlis for budget support, and contends further approval from parliament was therefore not required.

However, Filza told the Finance Committee the US$65 million loan was only to be borrowed from foreign lenders and that the government has to seek parliamentary approval before borrowing from a local bank as per the Public Finance Act.

The Finance Committee has decided to forward the loan request to the Majlis floor for approval.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has submitted a resolution to the Majlis floor and to the Finance Committee to take action against the government for borrowing from BML at commercial interest rates without parliamentary approval.

Meanwhile, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP and deputy chair of the Finance committee Mohamed Nashiz has also raised concern over unapproved borrowing. “It’s a big issue that the government took out a loan without Majlis approval,” Nashiz said.  The DRP is represented in the coalition unity government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told Minivan News today the Rf 300 million loan, which he claims was borrowed at an interest rate of nine percent, was already in use.

“The loan had to be obtained urgently. The Indian government had pledged US$ 25 million as budget support, and when the money was not realized we had difficulties with the cash flow,” Jihad said.

However, Jihad said the government would respect the Finance Committee’s recommendations and submit “what is required of us to the Majlis for approval.”

This year’s budget deficit is estimated to surpass Rf9 billion (US$584million), around 27 percent of GDP.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April has warned that economic growth and stability may be at risk in the medium term due to the large budget deficit and increase in expenditure.