Mamdhooh, in the middle: He became famous as a young entrepreneur over a short period of time.

Luxury, extravagance and finally scam allegations

10 May 2023

By Ahmed Naif

After playing a game with his friends, he would throw an MVR 25,000 bundle at the winner. He bought an expensive flat in Hulhumale and spent USD 100,000 (MVR 1.7 million) alone on the interior of the place. He bought 40 of the latest iPhones at one go and just gave them away to employees and friends. With his family, he went around the globe, buying expensive branded jewellery, handbags and cars.

This is part of the expensive, fancy life of Hassan 'Mandey' Mamdooh, who claims to be the 'owner' of high-end K-Park flats being built in Hulhumale. Mamdooh, who is currently being investigated by the police for allegedly duping K-Park's main shareholder, also portrayed himself as a generous young businessman who helped people. It was being said that this new entrepreneur was at a point where "any pleasure of the world was within his reach".

The sudden wealth, generosity, fancy lifestyle and kindness he was showing was something else altogether, as is evident from the allegations against him.

Founding of Hanbo Company 

Mamdooh first came to limelight in 2016 with Hanbo Company Private Limited, which was registered in the Maldives as a foreign investment with the shares of other foreign nationals and him as the managing director.

Copies of these documents were received by Atoll Times. According to documents issued by HDC, now known as Urbanco, Hanbo company signed an agreement on October 9, 2016, to acquire 21,246 square feet of land, the Hulhumale Lot No: D-2 LB, for the construction of K-Park flats. 

Subsequently, on August 12, 2018, 50% stake held by Indian Ravi Rajendran, 35% stake held by Mamdooh and 10% stake of Hanbo Tech Limited of Korea in the local company were transferred to Jin Shi Hu of China. Jin now owns 95% of the company. Jin has also been appointed managing director of the company from that day onwards. 

Here's how the shares changed: 

  • Jin Shi Hu, Managing Director - 95% shares

  • Hassan Mamdooh - 5% shares

Documents show that despite the share sale and purchase, the developer of the K-Park project remains the same. At no point was Mamdooh the owner of the 13-storey, K-Park flat building. China's Jin Shi Hu is the main shareholder. 

A person who has worked with Mamdooh in the past, who did not wish to be named, told Atoll Times that the K-Park flats were an investment by Jin. Mamdooh was given minority share of the company to oversee the day-to-day operations of the project and to run the office as Jin could not stay in the Maldives.

After Jin joined the company as the primary investor in K-Park, Mamdooh was introduced to Soon Su Kim, a broker at Hanbo's Korean company. He is a Korean citizen. The documents show that Kim had signed the documents on behalf of Hanbo's Korean company, but he was never a shareholder.

"What's going on is that Kim is a broker actually. Mamdooh is Kim's friend. They're very close. Jin is an investor Kim found," he recalls. 

Another person familiar with the project, who did not wish to be named, said the project began showing any progress when Jin purchased the shares in 2018 and took over the business. Images of the progress of the project on the official Facebook page of K-Park, controlled by Mamdooh, back this. 

The pictures show that before August 2018, the project was progressing at a slow pace. However, after that, the concrete work went on in full swing and was completed. It was the fastest such a large structure had been completed in Hulhumale. 

"The structure was completed soon after Jin bought the company. That's where people got confidence and started buying," he says. 

However, Mamdooh portrayed himself as the owner of K-Park. He shot to fame by showing it as his own investment. 

A notable fact from the documents is that while the shares of the company have changed since Jin took over the project, Urbanco has not changed the company references that was awarded the project. Urbanco has granted all permissions to Hanbo Maldives. The performance guarantee was also given by the company, where Jin owns a large stake.

However, Mamdooh came up with a new story on Tuesday.

In response to the allegations against him, Mamdooh issued a statement saying that Hanbo company is the Maldives agent for Korea's Hanbo Tech. The agent's role, according to him, was to carry out the transactions of buying and selling the apartments only. He said the approval was granted by a board resolution of the Korean company Hanbo Tech company, which has now been revoked. 

Proof of the board resolution was not included in the statement. According to the documents obtained by Atoll Times, Hanbo Company Private Limited has the legal status to register and do business in the Maldives as a foreign investment. Documents submitted to the economic ministry show that the company was set up to build K-Park flats and carry out related businesses in the country. In addition, the Foreign Investment Act and Companies Act prohibit a foreign company from doing business in the country without registering as a foreign investment.

Fraud via a network of companies

One of the representatives of Jin, the main shareholder of the K-Park project, explained that the Hong Kong-based Shejia Group, which is a construction firm with Jin's stake as well, was hired as the contractor for the K-Park building. 

On October 30, 2017, Mamdooh and another person registered a company with the economic ministry under the name Shejia Group Maldives.

Speaking on behalf of Jin, the source said Mamdooh had created the company without Jin's knowledge. Jin alleged that the purpose of doing so was to depict that the construction work of K-Park was also being carried out by Mamdooh's compant.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the gravity of the case, he said some of the proceeds from the sale of apartments were deposited in an account opened in the name of Shejia Group Maldives with the Bank of Maldives. Atoll Times received copies of cheques addressed to the company by buyers.

"It's a company that Jin didn't know of at all. An account had been created in the name of the company and money was deposited in the account from the buyers," he said.

Mamdooh had registered three companies.

According to economic ministry records, on January 22, 2019, a company called Dhikor Investments and Consulting Group was registered with the participation of three others and led by Mamdooh.

Abdul Nafiu Mohamed, who has been working as Urbanco's development officer since 2014, is also a shareholder, according to the company's website, and the K-Park project is an investment of the company. It was the company's biggest and first investment, the website touts. In addition, the company is involved in the construction of resorts and fields and buildings of Football Association of Maldives (FAM). All these projects have since stalled.

According to the person who spoke on behalf of Jin, Mamdooh had also entered into transactions in the name of Dhikor to sell flats from  K-Park.

According to Information in Nafiu's LinkedIn, his job is to conduct evaluations of investment proposals Urbanco received and meet potential investors. Therefore, there is room to allege that some of the Urbanco employees were involved in the transactions carried out by Mamdooh. 

Urbanco has also asked the police to probe the alleged irregularities in the sale of flats from K-Park. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Mamdooh also floated a company called Kordhi Investment, which was owned by a person named Jaishan Saeed. According to the company's documents, the company has registered a business name called K-Park Residence.

According to the person who spoke on behalf of Jin, Mamdooh and Jaishan had also entered into deals to sell flats in the name of Kordhi Investment. However, at no point of time or any document grants Kordhi Investment the power to sell K-Park flats, he said.

"We suspect that these three companies were created to carry out fraudulent transactions. Jin believes that all these companies were registered to deceive him," he said.

Flats undervalued; double sales

According to documents accessed by Atoll Times, it is clear that so far the actual developer has not received money from 18 apartments in any way and the money has been rolled through other companies where Mamdooh serves as the managing director. Atoll Times also received copies of agreements that showed that some apartments had been sold to more than one person. 

Jin's representative said the value of such identified transactions has crossed MVR 100 million. It is alleged that some of the money was taken by Mamdooh by forging Jin's signature, making fake board resolutions and opening an account in the name of Hanbo Company in the bank.

"The actual account is with SBI, but the account was not used and the money was routed by Mamdooh, creating an account with the BML during the Covid-19 pandemic when Jin could not come to the Maldives," he said.

A former employee at K-Park, who did not wish to be named, said Mamdooh had all the powers over the account at BML. Jin did not even know that the company had an account with the bank.

"If MVR 2 million is deposited in the account, the money will be withdrawn within the same week. Even if Jin's accountant was in the office, Mamdooh would ask not to let him know anything. He keeps everything under wraps without his knowledge," the employee said.

However, Mamdooh said in a statement that Jin's accountant was aware of the transactions. Mamdooh, therefore, denies the claim that Jin did not know anything.

Atoll Times has received a copy of the 2018 agreement to sell shares to Jin which includes a list of apartments that had been sold thus far out of the total 110 apartments in K-Park. According to the list, only 33 apartments were sold till the time Jin bought shares. Since then, Mamdooh has been informing Jin that no apartments have been sold, said the person who spoke on behalf of Jin.

"Jin doesn't understand English well, so he believed what Mamdooh was saying. When asked, he kept saying that apartments were not being sold. When China reopened [post-Covid], Jin was able to come to the Maldives and he received complaints from people who had come to see the apartments. From that point on, he realised that there was something wrong," he says, explaining why Jin trusted Mamdooh without complaining about him previously.

According to a copy of the agreements received by Atoll Times, a three-room apartment on the 11th floor of K-Park was sold to a person for MVR 2.5 million in early 2021. Mamdooh signed the agreement as a director of Hanbo Company. There was also Hanbo's seal on it. The money was accepted by Jaishan, who signed as witness of the company. Once again, the same flat was sold to someone else in the middle of last year for MVR 3.9 million. The agreement was also signed by Mamdooh and Jaishan. The agreements were made in the local Dhivehi language.

Documents show that they had signed up to accept the money for the sale of apartments.

Responding to the allegations against Mamdooh, his statement said Jin would be aware of the sale of apartments. However, a letter signed by the main shareholder Jin could not be found. The fact that the agreements were also in the local language does not lend credence to the claim that Jin knew of the transactions. 

Compared to Urbanco's published list of selling prices for K-Park apartments, Mamdooh's sales are undervalued. Therefore, it is possible that apartments were sold at throwaway prices, much lower than the market rate.

If he wanted to travel abroad, he will sell off an apartment for immediate cash or will accept a car with a domain licence plate in exchange for an apartment.

A former employee of Mamdooh

A former employee of Mamdooh recounted how apartments were being sold to meet Mamdooh's personal expenses. 

"If he wanted to travel abroad, he will sell off an apartment for  immediate cash or he will accept a car with a domain licence plate in exchange for an apartment," said the former employee. 

Mamdooh also admits in his statement that he accepted money from the sale of apartments. Defending it, he says that all the money was spent on the project. However, the project has stalled after 80% completion. 

Those who complained about the delay in completion of apartments were being paid compensation in a 'pyramid scheme; the money they get from those who buy apartments later is given to others. Some agreements were amended to allow buyers to receive MVR 20,000 per month as compensation till handover. However, many people are complaining about not getting the money.

The police are also looking into these cases. 

Possible tax evasion

Mamdooh said in the statement that he earned money from the sale of apartments. However, copies of tax returns filed with the state's tax agency, MIRA, in the name of Hanbo Company, show that it has filed zero figure tax returns.

According to the tax statement filed with MIRA in 2020, Hanbo did not earn any revenue. The financial statement also had a sum on the income part. However, documents accessed by Atoll Times show that the company took at least MVR 1.5 million as down payment from each apartment when the apartments were sold during 2020-2023.

Further, the person who spoke on behalf of Jin said that the signature of Jin in the tax statements filed with MIRA did not match with his original signature. Claiming that Jin did not sign the documents, he also lodged a police complaint. An examination of the documents also reveals a huge difference in signatures.

However, Jaishan signed the tax returns, which are suspected to be of fraud, saying they are audited and unverified. 

Putting it all together reveals the fascinating fraud that took place behind the high-end K-Park project. While a seemingly great businessman was suddenly born out of the project, many Maldivians had lost money. There is no denying that some people have done wrong.