Villa Group under ‘dangerous shadow’ says Gasim

Villa Group under ‘dangerous shadow’ says Gasim

Opposition leader and founder of Villa Group Gasim Ibrahim has thanked his employees for their “strength and commitment”  after a week of raids and official action targeting his businesses.

Four Villa resorts have been searched under the suspicion of illegally possessing alcohol released by customs to one of his other holiday properties. The firm has also been accused of owing millions to the state.

A letter addressed to Villa employees and signed by Gasim, who is currently in Germany after fleeing the Maldives on medical leave while serving a three-year jail term for bribery, was made public on Thursday.

“As my dear employees can witness and feel, our company is under a dangerous shadow outside the rule of law, due process and justice.

“You are all bearing the loss and grief of this with me. I am thankful and appreciate your strength and patience in this testing time. The biggest strength to me right now is the honesty and commitment of my dear employees.”

Gasim sought to assure his employees that Villa had not acted illegally.

“What has happened is the result of something else. I feel obliged to share this with my dear employees, as my dear employees must be aware of this in full confidence.”

“Maldivians are well aware why our company is being challenged like this. The reason is to stop the work I’m doing to better and advance the lives of Maldivian people and this country. I believe that some people think  the way to do that is by bankrupting me.”

Gasim said the fact that past elections had swung in favour of the side he chose was proof of how Maldivians accepted his honesty and sincerity.

“I believe that this is where the plan to destroy me comes to mind. When this became clear to me, and when I realised that the interests of thousands of Maldivians depended on me, I tried to discuss with the head of the state about isolating myself from politics and turning to social work. But I was not afforded that opportunity.”

The Villa group employs more than  5,000 people.

Photo: Auf Majeed