Civil Court freezes accounts, holds passport of DRP Leader Thasmeen

The Civil Court has issued a court order today freezing the bank accounts and holding the passport of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali over a case filed by Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim to recover an unpaid debt of MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513).

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Nazim filed the case requesting enforcement of a Civil Court verdict in April 2011 – upheld by the High Court in April 2013 – ordering the recently appointed running mate of President Dr Mohamed Waheed to settle the debt.

A Civil Court media official explained to Minivan News that freezing accounts and holding passports were the normal procedure to follow in cases of decreed debt.

The media official confirmed that the Civil Court has issued the court order to both freeze Thasmeen’s bank accounts and hold his passport following today’s hearing.

Thasmeen’s lawyer reportedly said that his client was preparing to appeal the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court. The judge however replied that the civil case would proceed until such a time when the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal.

MP Nazim sued Thasmeen in March 2011 to recover MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513) unpaid from a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000). After the Civil Court ruled in favour of Nazim, Thasmeen appealed the judgment at the High Court in June 2011.

At the time the case was filed at the Civil Court, Thasmeen’s DRP was in a formal coalition with the minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) led by Nazim and current PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.

The DRP-PA coalition agreement was severed in July 2011 amidst internal strife within the then-main opposition party, which saw a breakaway faction loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom leaving the party to form PPM in October 2011.

Following an acrimonious war of words between then-DRP ‘Honorary Leader’ Gayoom and his successor Thasmeen, the former president withdrew his endorsement of the DRP presidential candidate in March 2011.

Meanwhile, at the final hearing of the Civil Court case in April 2011, Thasmeen’s lawyer reportedly claimed that Nazim agreed to sell Shaviyani Kabalifaru, which was leased for development as a resort in 2005, to raise funds to cover the MVR 2.55 million loan.

Thasmeen’s lawyer denied that an agreement was made between the pair to pay back the loan in a month, claiming that Nazim failed to find a buyer for Kabalifaru as agreed upon in November 2008.

The lawyer also denied Nazim’s claim that the loan was taken to pay back Thasmeen’s debts at the Bank of Maldives.

However, Nazim’s lawyer, Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem – currently President Waheed’s member on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – disputed both claims, demanding documentation to prove that Thasmeen gave power of attorney to Nazim to sell the resort.

At a previous hearing, Nazim’s lawyer had produced a document with Thasmeen’s signature, prompting Judge Hathif Hilmy to observe that the purported loan agreement had a reference number and that it was therefore reasonable to expect Thasmeen to be aware of the details of the amount in question.

Article 73(c) of the constitution states, “A person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the People’s Majlis immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”


High Court upholds lower court verdicts over unpaid Bank of Maldives loans

The High Court has upheld Civil Court verdicts ordering Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments – two companies with ties to Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – to repay millions of dollars worth of loans to the Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (BML).

DRP MP Mohamed Nashiz, brother of the DRP leader and managing director of Kabaalifaru, and MP Ali Azim, a loan guarantor, were among the appellants at the High Court.

Both MPs had signed ‘joint and several guarantee and indemnity’ agreements for the loans issued in mid-2008.

In the verdicts delivered today, the High Court ruled that there were no legal grounds to overturn the lower court verdicts.

In the first case involving Mahandhoo Investments, BML had 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.

After BML sued Mahandhoo for non-payment, the Civil Court ruled on October 19, 2009 that the company was not paying the loans in compliance with the agreement and authorised the bank to sell mortgaged properties – including Reethi Beach Resort – to recover the outstanding debts along with incurred interest and fines.

The court ordered the company to settle the outstanding debt in a one year period. However the verdict was appealed at the High Court and remained stalled for almost two years.

The second case meanwhile involved a US$3.3 million loan issued to Kabaalifaru Investment and the appeal of a Civil Court verdict on September 30, 2009 ordering the company to settle the debt in the next 12 months.

Meanwhile a third case involving a Civil Court verdict in December 2009 ordering luxury yachting company Sultans of the Seas – with close ties to the DRP leader – to pay over US$50 million in unpaid loans and incurred interest and fines had also been appealed at the High Court.

In a BML audit report released in January 2009, Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem warned 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 noted.

According to the report, US$45 million was granted to Sultans of the Seas and US$36 million to Fonnadhoo Tuna Products, two loans which comprised 13 per cent of the total loans issued in 2008.

The report noted that Fonaddhoo was owned by current DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – running mate of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the 2008 presidential election – while the owners of Sultans of the Seas were closely associated with the minority leader.

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.

In February 2010, the court ordered the company to pay Rf110 million (US$7 million) as fines and evaded import duties.


DRP to seek public opinion ahead of 2013 presidential campaign

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) will begin travels across the country “in about two months” to seek public opinion in preparation for the 2013 presidential election, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said last night.

Speaking at a ceremony in Funadhoo in Shaviyani Atoll to mark the party’s sixth anniversary, Thasmeen explained that it was necessary to find out the concerns of young people, who will make up the majority of the electorate in 2013, as well as the needs and opinions of other age groups.

According to newspaper Haveeru, Thasmeen speculated that a majority of voters were unhappy with the current government “because of the difficult situation the Maldivian people are facing now.”

“Therefore, we can only bring the country back to the right track if DRP wins the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Thasmeen also expressed gratitude to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on the occasion of the party’s sixth anniversary, who was made the DRP’s ‘Honorary Leader’ at its national congress in March 2010.

The Z-faction of the DRP meanwhile launched separate activities to celebrate the anniversary at a rally Thursday night.

The breakaway faction formed around the party’s ‘Zaeem,’ led by dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Nasser, opened a new office last week for use by Gayoom.

Speaking at the anniversary rally, Gayoom invited DRP members who wished to seek an  audience with him to make appointments at the new office, which is located in Boduthakurufaanumagu a short distance from the DRP’s main office.


Thasmeen ordered to pay over Rf1 million to PA Nazim

The Civil Court today ordered opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali to pay in a six-month period over Rf1 million (US$77,800) owed to coalition partner People’s Alliance (PA) Deputy Leader Ahmed Nazim, reports Haveeru.

Delivering the verdict, Judge Hathif Hilmy told Thasmeen’s lawyer to pay monthly installments to the court until the debt is repaid.

The judge also ordered Thasmeen to pay Nazim Rf1,800 (US$140) incurred as lawyer’s fees, based on a rate of Rf300 per hearing. Nazim had however claimed Rf100,000 in compensation for lawyer’s fees.

Deputy Speaker Nazim sued Majority Leader Thasmeen to recover Rf1.92 million (US$149,400) unpaid from a loan worth Rf2.55 million (US$200,000).