The Civil Court ordered the Maldives government to release a lagoon it had seized during the corruption scandal of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), which the latter had leased to a private firm.
The government had seized the lagoon from lessee SeaHouse Hotels & Resorts, stating that the lagoon’s acquisition cost of USD 1.5 million had not been paid to the state.
SeaHouse Resorts had filed a lawsuit over the termination of its contract, declaring that they had already made the payment to MMPRC. The documents accepting the payment were signed by the then managing director of MMPRC Abdulla Ziyath.
The lower court had ruled in favour of SeaHouse Resorts, annulling the government’s notice to the company terminating its contract with MMPRC. The Civil Court said in its verdict that a state institution issuing a receipt of payment is interpreted as the payment being made to the government. Hence, the entity that made the payment is considered innocent, whereas the sole responsibility of the money lies with the person who signed to accept the payment.
The MMPRC scandal is the largest case of corruption in the Maldives history, where MVR 1.2 billion worth of funds received as acquisition costs via island leases for resort development had been embezzled through the corporation. MMPRC’s former managing director Abdulla Ziyath, who signed the documents accepting SeaHouse Resort’s payment for the lagoon, is currently jailed over the corruption, while Police and Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) are probing into other cases related to the embezzlement.
Former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Gafoor is also jailed over the MMPRC embezzlement in addition to orchestrating the blast aboard the presidential speedboat and for weapon’s possession.