Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Photo/Reuters

Yameen says MVR 52m calculation not clear; no chance to respond

Yameen said that at the time of the sentencing verdict, there was no mention of the MVR 52 million.

31 March 2023

By Fathmath Ahmed Shareef

Former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Thursday expressed concern in the court that it is not clear why the state demands USD 3.4 million (MVR 52 million) in connection with the V. Aarah case, adding that he was not allowed to defend himself before the court issued the recovery order.

Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25 after being found guilty of money laundering and accepting a bribe. On February 23, the court had ordered him to pay the state MVR 52 million as the amount that was laundered in the case within six months.

A month after the 11-year jail term awarded in the case, the court ordered Yameen to pay the MVR 52 million on the ground that it was due to the state. Yameen had challenged the order in the High Court, saying it was in violation of procedures.

In this case, the High Court on Thursday held a hearing to allow both parties to respond to each other's arguments and clarify what is required by the court and conclude the hearings in the case. When the court was about to announce that the hearing was over, Yameen questioned the MVR 52 million ordered to be recovered from him.

"The PG needs to explain how the 52 million came. The reason for saying this is that you did not seek my comment at the time of passing this order. By the time we reached the verdict, there was no mention of 52 million. And we were not given the chance to challenge it," he said. 

During Thursday’s hearing, Yameen said:

  • It was not 'discussed' in the bribery case or in the money laundering case

  • It is possible that the amount is mentioned in the application filed by the prosecution to be recovered from the state after the conclusion of the trial

  • The amount involved in the bribery case is USD 1 million; the money is still untouched in an Islamic Bank account

  • Even with interest rate, there is no way to reach MVR 52 million

"The cheque that was used to pay that USD 1 million is still untouched. So I have made no profit on it. The most profit to be had from it will be the bank’s interest on it. Even by adding interest onto that 1 million, it won't reach 52 million," Yameen said.

Yameen's defence pointed out that the separate order issued a month after the conclusion of the trial to pay MVR 52 million to the state in the Aarah case was "unsubstantiated". 

During Thursday’s hearing, the court repeatedly asked the state to respond to the claim that they had not sought Yameen's statement before issuing the order. However, the state could not explain why he was not allowed to speak in defence before the order.

When asked by the court if Yameen's comments were obtained while issuing the order, the state said it had not sought a comment. When asked whether the order was passed by the judge himself or at the request of the state, the state pointed out that the order was issued on the request of the state.

When asked by the court whether it believed that an order sought by the state does not require the defendant's response, the state agreed that it believed that the defendant's statement should be sought while passing such an order.

Hearings in the case concluded on Thursday. The next hearing will decide on the matter. The date of the hearing was not announced during Thursday’s hearing. However, the court noted that the sentencing session would be held soon.

Details of the pendency of the appeal in the High Court

In the appeal case at the High Court, Yameen mainly points out that if there is any money to be taken for the state, it should be ordered to be recovered at the time of conviction.

The appeals filed on behalf of Yameen are as follows:

  • If the state has any money to collect, it should be ordered to collect the money and property in the judgment at the time of conviction

  • The trial court, in its December judgment, did not pass an order to collect the money

  • The trial court passed the order to withdraw the money out of procedure, taking into account a letter sent by the state much after the conviction

  • The order to withdraw the money was issued after Yameen was handed over the conclusive report after the trial concluded in the case

  • At that time, Yameen had filed an appeal against his conviction in the case

Yameen requested the court:

  • The trial court's order to recover MVR 52 million from the state was ultra vires of the Code of Criminal Procedure

  • An order to recover the property from the state can only be passed in the impugned order and otherwise such an order cannot be issued separately

  • Yameen's appeal to the High Court seeking an interim injunction staying the implementation of the state's order to take 52 million unless a decision is reached on his 11-year sentence

  • To direct all state agencies not to take a single action against Yameen for failing to implement the order during the period