6 September 2016
Al Jazeera has announced the release of a documentary, “Stealing Paradise”, which it claims would reveal mass corruption, theft and abuse of power in Maldives. Al Jazeera’s investigative team included, Will Jordan, a former editor of The Maldives Independent (formerly Minivan News).
Screening of the documentary has been taken off Al Jazeera’s schedule for Sunday. It is widely expected that it will be released this week. An invitation card for the documentary’s premiere began circulating on social media over the weekend. Former President Nasheed, who was granted asylum in the UK last May, said in a Tweet on Saturday that he was invited to the documentary’s opening ceremony.
According to Al Jazeera, the documentary features secretly filmed interviews describing how “men on mopeds carried millions in cash to the president and his aides.” Al Jazeera’s documentary is expected to give some insight into the $1.5 billion money laundering plot. The laundering was with the help of secretive businessmen from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. They planned to fly in cash at up to $100m at a time, pass it through the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and transfer it back out.
The impending release of the documentary appears to have rattled the government. The ruling party MPs are threatening to sue the Doha-based broadcaster and prosecute Maldivians who gave information to Al Jazeera’s investigative unit.
Villimale’ MP Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik, said on Sunday that former president Mohamed Nasheed was behind the soon-to-be released Al Jazeera documentary. He accused the two foreign journalists who were recently deported, being part of it.
A BBC report released on 25 August 2016 says that opponents of Abdulla Yameen in the tiny island nation are looking to move against him within weeks. Abdulla Yameen spokesman told the BBC they knew of claims of an attempt to “overthrow” the government, describing it as a “clear breach of international norms”. This rift may be based on the rift in the ruling party between Yameen and his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Gayoom’s daughter, Dunya Maumoon, resigned as foreign minister in July.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a report alleging Yameen’s involvement in “questionable oil sales to a Myanmar dictatorship under economic sanctions.”
It is also alleged that the ruling party leaders embezzled USD79 million through the state tourism promotion company.
Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry. More than USD79 million received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company.
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had questioned former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor over the transfer of funds linked to MPPRC to a private account of incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Adheeb was convicted and sentenced to eight years for misappropriating acquisition fees paid by a foreign company for the 50-year lease of a lagoon in the capital atoll.
President Yameen was also questioned by the ACC over a transaction that a company involved in the MMPRC scandal had made to his personal account in the Islamic Bank.
It is speculated that Al Jazeera’s “Stealing Paradise”, may be released for public viewing on 7 September 0:00 hrs GMT.