Villa Group contests US$100 million rent claim

Opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group has contested a US$100million claim issued by the Tourism Ministry at the Civil Court.

The 30-day notice, issued on March 1, came after the ministry annulled agreements for seven islands leased to Villa Group. At the time, the ministry claimed Villa had failed to begin developing the islands as resorts.

The company last week requested the Civil Court to annul the US$100million claim as well as the Tourism Ministry’s decision to cancel the seven lease agreements.

Meanwhile, the opposition has alleged the government was targeting Gasim’s businesses following his split with the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives and subsequent alliance with the Maldivian Democratic Party.

The Tourism Ministry in early February also moved to seize several lagoons granted to Villa Group, but was stalled following a Civil Court injunction. The High Court on February 24 overturned the stay order, paving the way for state appropriation.