Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Maldives ex-vice president Ahmed Adeeb gets 20 years for corruption

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A court in the Maldives has sentenced former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb to 20 years in prison for corruption charges related to leasing tropical islands for hotel development.

The 38-year-old, who pleaded guilty last month under a plea bargain, was also fined $129,892 on Monday.

The Maldives Criminal Court charged Adeeb with embezzlement, money laundering and misuse of government authority among other offences, according to an order of Judge Hassan Saeed.

According to an asset recovery commission formed by the current government, the islands in the popular holiday destination were sold below-market prices. As a result, the government lost nearly $259m.

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In his statement to the court, Adeeb said he was ready to cooperate to recover the missing money.

Last year, Maldivian police arrested Adeeb after he fled the Indian Ocean archipelago and sought asylum in India.

Adeeb, who became the Maldives’ youngest vice president in July 2015 at 33 years of age, suffered a spectacular fall from grace just months later following a mysterious blast on then-President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.

Yameen, who lost a 2018 presidential election and in 2019 was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering, escaped the explosion unharmed but his wife and two aides were injured.

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Authorities in the Maldives swiftly moved to arrest Adeeb, and brought him to trial, first on charges of corruption relating to the theft of nearly $80m from state coffers from the lease of islands for tourism, and later on accusations of plotting to kill Yameen.

The following year, Adeeb was sentenced to a total of 33 years in jail in trials rights groups called unfair.

In May last year, an appeals court overturned the sentences against Adeeb and ordered retrials, citing political interference in the convictions. Prosecutors appealed the ruling in the money-laundering case, and the Supreme Court seized Adeeb’s passport pending a new decision.

He was released from house imprisonment in July 2019.

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