Former MDP MP Musthafa to ask Supreme Court to declare DRP Leader Thasmeen’s seat vacant

Former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa has said he is filing a case in the Supreme Court requesting the apex court declare the seat of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali vacant, over unpaid debts.

Musthafa contends Thasmeen – recently appointed President Mohamed Waheed’s running mate ahead of September’s election – had not paid loans he took from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim or those taken from the Bank of Maldives in the name of a company of which he is a shareholder.

Musthafa himself 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, Mustafa said that there was precedent for the court to declare 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.

MP Nazim, of 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). After the Civil Court ruled in favour of Nazim, Thasmeen appealed the judgment at the High Court in June 2011.

In October 2011, the High Court upheld Civil Court verdicts ordering Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments – two companies with ties to Thasmeen – to repay millions of dollars worth of loans to the Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (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. The appeal of 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 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.


In July 2009, then-PPM Vice President Umar Naseer filed a case against Musthafa shortly after the MP won the election for Thimarafushi constituency against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son, Gassan Maumoon.

Umar Naseer contended that Musthafa not repaid a loan of US$31,231.66 (MVR 481,952) borrowed from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) according to the court order and therefore must be removed from parliament for the violation of article 73(c)1.

According to the article 73(c)1 of the constitution, “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.”


MMA accepts MDP MP Musthafa’s BCCI debt after the court rejected the money

The Civil Court has refused to accept payment of the debt it had ordered paid by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa, after the ruling against him was last week upheld by the Supreme Court.

The case had been filed against him by Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Deptuy Leader Umar Naseer, and the ruling meant that Musthafa was disqualified as an MP for the former ruling party, forcing a by-election in his seat of Thimarafushi.

Musthafa this morning sent a person to pay the debt to the court – a loan of US$31,231.66 (Rf 481,952) borrowed from the now defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

The Civil Court has confirmed that a person had sought to pay the debt on Musthafa’s behalf, after the Supreme Court ruling did not mention that the money was to be paid to the former ‘Madhanee’, or Civil, Court.

Until President Nasheed signed the Judicature Act into law last year, the official name of the Civil Court had been Madhanee Court – ‘madhanee’ being the Arabic word for ‘civil’.

MDP MP Musthafa today told Minivan News that he had been trying to pay the money every day since losing the caase last Friday, but said the court had not accepted it.

‘’Today I thought I would inform that media and send someone to the court to pay the money, and the court did not accept it again,’’ Musthafa said. ‘’I wrote a letter to the court but they did not respond to it.’’

Later today, Musthafa said the Civil Court registrar had called him and met with him, and said the Supreme Court’s ruling did not specify who the recipient of the money was to be, and that the Civil Court did not know what they should do with it, Musthafa said.

‘’The Supreme Court told me to get assistance from the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and the Attorney General,’’ he said. ‘’So then I sent the money to the MMA, and the MMA has received the money.’’

He also said that tomorrow he will file a case in the Civil Court asking the court to order the MMA to pay him the US$500,000 that the BCCI was obliged to pay Musthafa, in a separate case concerning the supply of meat and other goods.

‘’They have today proved that the MMA are the live parent of BCCI [despite BCCI being defunct],’’ he said. ‘’This is funny to me – because when they have to pay me something owed by BCCI, they deny they are the live parent, but when I have something to pay to BCCI they become the live parent of BCCI.’’

In November last year Musthafa threatened legal action against the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) if it did not pay the US$500,000 that BCCI owed his company Seafood International, alleging that the sum was due to be paid to his company according to a 1991 London court ruling.

Citing MMA as the “live branch of BCCI in the Maldives,” Musthafa previously stated that “the debt of a dead person has to be paid by a living legal parent.”


Supreme Court disqualifies MDP MP Musthafa

The Supreme Court has disqualified former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa over a decreed debt which the court concluded makes him constitutionally ineligible to remain in the seat.

Monday’s ruling came following the case filed against Musthafa in July 2009 by opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Vice President Umar Naseer, shortly after Musthafa won the election for Thimarafushi constituency against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son, Gassan Maumoon.

Umar Naseer contended that Musthafa had not still this date repaid a loan of US$31,231.66 (Rf481,952) borrowed from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) according to the court order and therefore must be removed from Parliament for the violation of article 73(c)1.

According to the article 73(c) 1, “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: 1. has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgement.”

The verdict came following a bench opinion which had an interesting split between the seven residing judges of the apex court, where four were in favour of removing Musthafa from the post as they deemed he was responsible for the decreed debt while the three remaining judges shared different views.

Two judges, including the Chief of Justice Ahmed Faiz concluded that it cannot be ruled Musthafa had a decreed debt as the loan had been taken on the name of Musthafa’s company Seafood and Trade International and added that in August 1997 the lower court had ordered the “company” to repay the loan.

Judge Muathasim Adnan meanwhile said that Musthafa and his company are two different legal entities and said the company’s decreed loan cannot be attributed to Musthfafa until a corporate veil is lifted.

Corporate veil is a legal decision to treat the rights or duties of a corporation as the rights or liabilities of its shareholders.

Following the ruling, former Attorney General Husnu Suood tweeted that the Supreme Court’s decision is “wrong”. He shared the view of Judge Adnan: “I think the debt is not his, but his company’s which in technical terms a separate legal person.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the MDP rally tonight Musthafa had dismissed the ruling as “unjust and politically motivated”.

He also vowed for a comeback announcing that he will contest for the same seat in the next elections and win. “Only former President Mohamed Nasheed can defeat me,” he claimed.

Suood says that Musthafa can compete in the bi-election after discharging the debt.

However, Musthafa  insists that he won’t repay the loan, citing deceptions from the food supplier General Meat Ltd.

Musthafa has also threatened legal action against the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) in November if it did not pay the US$500,000 that the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) owed Seafood International.

Musthafa alleged that the sum was due to be paid to his company according to a 1991 London court ruling.

Citing MMA as the “live branch of BCCI in the Maldives,” Musthafa previously stated that “the debt of a dead person has to be paid by a living legal parent. If the MMA does not pay us within seven days we will sue the MMA in court and when we sue, we will ask the court to take the amount of money for the loss we have had for the past 20 years as a cause of not having this money.’’

The Supreme Court was due to rule on a case against Musthafa on October 20, 2010 however proceedings were interrupted when MDP called for a nation-wide protest against the judiciary during an emergency meeting.

Speaking to Minivan News at the time, MDP MP and spokesperson for the party’s Parliamentary Group, Mohamed Shifaz, said judges had been blackmailed and that the party would protest the politicised judiciary indefinitely.

Amid the government’s attempt to reform judiciary, when Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by military on January 16, the opposition subsequently took up the protest baton and demanded the release of  the judge – whose arrest  set in motion the series of events that culminated into the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on Febrary 7 in what he called was a coup.


MDP protest turns violent outside Gayoom’s residence

A protest launched by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) turned violent today after party activists clashed with supporters of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in front of his residence Enderimaage, in the Maafanu ward of Male’.

MDP MPs and activists gathered outside the Supreme Court at 3pm this afternoon in anticipation of a verdict in a case filed by Umar Naseer – an interim council member of Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – challenging the legitimacy of Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa’s candidacy on the grounds that he had a decreed debt.

Earlier in the day, the MDP national council conducted an emergency meeting and approved a resolution to launch a protest against the judiciary, claiming judges were unduly influenced by the former President and his half-brother MP Abdulla Yameen.

However a verdict was not delivered by the Supreme Court today, which said the hearing was called “to clarify a few points after reviewing the case.”

After Musthafa emerged from the hearing, the protesters marched towards Endherimaage, where violent clashes erupted between MDP activists and a few Gayoom supporters blocking the entrance to his residence.

The clashes occurred after a large piece of wood allegedly thrown from Endherimaage struck a 17-year-old demonstrator or bystander, who was immediately rushed to hospital on a passing pick-up.

Minivan News journalists at the scene observed gravel, rocks, hot water and sharp metal raining down on protesters from the top floors or terrace of Endherimaage.

Several activists claimed they saw Gassan Maumoon, former President Gayoom’s son, throw stones and pour boiling hot water on the protesters.

MDP activists meanwhile threw large stones at Endhirmaage and attempted to break down the door.

Some windows of the house were smashed while a car parked outside was damaged.

The 17-year-old is currently undergoing surgery at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH). A number of MDP MPs and senior members are waiting at the hospital.

MP Ali Waheed told state broadcaster MNBC that the boy was behind MP Alhan Fahmy when the piece of wood struck him straight on the head.

MNBC One showed blood stains on the MPs’ shirt, which Ali Waheed said resulted from the injury to the boy. The state broadcaster also reported that other people at the area were hurt from falling objects.

Speaking to Minivan News outside IGMH, the brother of the injured boy said that according to doctors “his skull was damaged and parts of the skull have gone inside his brain.”

“He was hit in the right side of his head and the left side of his body is now paralysed,” the relative said.

Doctors could not predict how long the surgery would take, he added.

”The doctors said the surgery was to remove the particles from inside his brain,” he said.

Some of the MDP supporters outside the hospital claimed the boy was hit by a wooden door hurled from the terrace of Endherimaage by Gassan Maumoom.

Police spokesman Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed to Minivan News that police were investigating reports that the object was thrown from the Endherimaage building.

“We are questioning the witnesses to try and determine how this happened,” Shiyam said.

“This is a very serious issue. Because of this there might be other problems and we do not want there to be political violence.”

Meanwhile in an interview with private broadcaster DhiTV this evening, Gayoom condemned the protest and claimed the violence was organised by the government.

Gayoom said he saw senior MDP members such as Male’ City Mayor ‘Maizan’ Ali Manik and Executive Services Secretary at the President’s Office Mohamed Ziyad. Minivan News also observed Ziyad and Maizan Alibe at the protest.

“They came with their activists and attacked my home,” Gayoom said. “They attacked nearby houses as well.”

As riot police were not at the scene to intercede, said Gayoom, Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Jaleel and Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh should “personally bear responsibility” for the damage.

Gayoom said he would inform foreign governments of today’s events.


MDP MP presents resolution demanding investigation into blackmarket sale of oil to Burma

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa today presented a resolution to the parliament demanding the investigation of Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his half-brother Abdulla Yameen, for allegedly buying subsidied oil from OPEC and selling it on the international blackmarket to Burma.

The previously-aired allegations date from Yameen’s time as Trade Minister and head of State Trading Organisation (STO). Yameen is now an MP and leader of the opposition-aligned People’s Alliance (PA) party, and has insisted that any such trading was legal and that allegations of impropriety were politically-motivated.

In the motion, Musthafa claimed that Chief National Correspondent of CNN-IBN Sumon Chakrabarti had outlined how the fraud was conducted to local media, and provided evidence.

His resolution requests an investigation into what it describes as “the biggest corruption case in the history of the Maldives”.

Issues relating to the Singapore-based joint venture that allegedly carried out the deal, Mocom Trading Pvt Ltd, which was used established to carry out this fraud, were first raised by audit firm KPMG, Musthafa noted in the resolution.

The resolution states that later in 2004, audit firm Price Water House Coopers also audited the STO.

“This year the government handed the auditing to [forensic accountancy firm] Grant Thornton which found that the two audit reports contained legitimate concerns in their reports,’’ the resolution said.

If passed, the resolution would oblige parliament to investigate the matter. It states that it is the legal duty of the parliament to look in to that matter as the allegations concern commercial crime as high-level corruption.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan said he fully supported such an investigation as it would “reveal the truth of it to the people.”

‘’There have been so many accusations against Gayoom and so far none of them have been proven,’’ Nihan said. ‘’This government has already spent US$2 million on bribing the journalist Chakrabarti and investigating the matter using other methods,” he alleged.

Nihan said Musthafa was “the black sheep” of the MDP Parliamentary Group, and accused the party of “often using him to present such resolutions and bills.”

‘’He always tell us outside the parliament that his policy is ‘no money, no talk,’’ he said. ‘’He must have been given some amount of money and if someone else gave more he will withdraw it, that is how he works.’’

Nihan said that similar allegations had been made by the current Home Minister Hassan Afeef that Gayoom took US $80 million dollars in tsunami aid given by the Qatari government.

‘’The court found Afeef guilty of defamation,’’ Nihan said. ‘’There are many such accusations against Gayoom.’’