JP Leader Gasim threatens STO MD with dismissal if Addu airport stake is sold

Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and MP for Alif Dhaal Maamigili MP, Gasim Ibrahim, has warned the Managing Director of the State Trading Organisation (STO) Shahid Ali that he would be sacked from his post if an agreement is signed to sell a 30 percent stake in the Addu International Airport Company Ltd (AIACL) to Kasa Holdings.

Responding to a question from a reporter at a function at the JP office last night, Gasim reportedly said Shahid could not “stay in his post if he signs it,” according to newspaper Haveeru.

He also warned that the STO MD could “not live on this island” if the sale was finalised.

The remarks from the JP presidential candidate comes after the Finance Ministry yesterday asked AIACL to halt the sale of a 30 percent stake in the consortium to Kasa Holdings, which was intended to raise finances for development of the Gan airport in Addu City.

‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef, tourism pioneer and business mogul, owns Kasa Holdings. A consortium formed by the Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL), STO and the Gan Airport Company meanwhile owns AIACL.

AIACL Managing Director Shahid Ali – also managing director of STO – told Sun Online on Sunday that the Finance Ministry asked to halt the sale of shares until the Public Enterprises Monitoring and Evaluation Board (PEMEB) gives clearance for the sale.

Shahid meanwhile told newspaper Haveeru that the agreement for the sale of shares was to be signed yesterday and that all arrangements had been made to complete the sale when the Finance Ministry’s instructions came through.

Shahid however claimed that it was “not the government’s policy” to stop the sale, adding that he expected the agreement to be signed next week with PEMEB’s clearance.

Meanwhile, Gasim sent a letter to President Dr Mohamed Waheed last week alleging corruption in the proposed sale of 30 percent of AIACL’s stake.

If the sale goes through, Gasim warned that Kasa Holdings would be positioned to acquire 70 percent of AIACL by moving to sell 40 percent to a buyer of its choice.

“If a member representing the government does not attend a board meeting held to sell this 40 percent, Kasa Holdings will have the power to sell 40 percent of shares to whoever it pleases at whatever price it wants,” Gasim wrote.

“In light of my experience on how these [deals] are completed, I have to say that the ultimate result would be the remaining unsold 40 percent being sold to a buyer of Kasa’s choice and the opening up of the opportunity for Kasa Holdings to control 70 percent, and within this opportunity, for [Kasa] to sell 51 or more percent of AIA to another foreign party.”