Maldives central bank slams Al Jazeera expose, denies money laundering plot

Maldives governor Azeema Adam (R) pictured during the MMA credit guarantee agreement signing ceremony in August. She has been implicated in a plot to launder USD1.5 million dollars through the central bank. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

Maldives governor Azeema Adam (R) pictured during the MMA credit guarantee agreement signing ceremony in August. She has been implicated in a plot to launder USD1.5 million dollars through the central bank. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

Maldives central bank Thursday denied allegations of a government plot to launder USD1.5 billion in physical cash through secret foreign businessmen exposed by a Al Jazeera documentary.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary titled ‘Stealing Paradise’ contains leaked documents and text messages derived from three mobile phones which belonged to the now jailed former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor.

The documentary claims to have found evidence that ministers and aides have plotted to launder up to USD1.5bn through the South Asian nation’s central bank, with the help of secretive businessmen from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

They planned to fly in cash at up to USD100m at a time, pass it through the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and transfer it back out.

MMA in a statement rejected the allegations as being made without any credible foundation.

“…any allegation that the MMA was used as a means to launder money is palpably untrue and cannot be substantiated,” the statement insisted.

The evidence obtained by Al Jazeera also implicated Maldives governor Azeema Adam through a series of text messages exchanged with Adheeb.

MMA however, dismissed the claims by insisting that the central bank is obligated to follow a strict and trusted cash withdrawl and storing procedure at the state vault which takes place in the presence of officials from as many as four different government institutions.

“No withdrawal or storing can take place without their presence and approval,” the statement read.

According to text messages and secretly filmed confessions included in the documentary, president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, through his former deputy had siphoned off millions in state funds, hijacked state institutions and bribed state officials including judges, lawyers and parliamentarians to exert his authoritarian power over the whole country.

Former aides of the now jailed ex-VP Adheeb had gone on record to say that they had personally delivered “bags of cash” to the president himself.

Maldives government have denied the allegations, labeling the documentary as biased and in pursuance of an already declared agenda against the government.

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