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Court warns of judgment in absentia in Sealife apartment scam

Sealife owes US$12 million to 258 people who paid booking fees and advance payments.



The civil court warned Thursday of handing down judgments in absentia for four separate cases involving a real estate developer accused of scamming hundreds of people.

SeaLife Global owes US$12 million to 258 people who paid booking fees and made advance payments for apartments in Hulhumalé that were never finished. 

In early January, SeaLife was sued by 203 victims of the alleged scam in the largest civil action lawsuit in Maldivian history. The developer is facing other lawsuits as well.

The civil court first warned of judgments in absentia on Tuesday after lawyers representing SeaLife Global failed to appear for hearings in four different cases. The lawyers were told to appear for Thursday’s hearings but failed to do so.

Last week, the law firm representing SeaLife blamed the state’s alleged failure to make payments owed to the company for delays in refunding the buyers.

The state owes SeaLife US$12 million (MVR185 million) for cancelling a previous agreement signed in 2011 to build 80 housing units, Advocacy Chambers claimed.

Former president Abdulla Yameen’s administration signed a resettlement agreement to compensate the developer in February 2018, the firm said.

In the wake of Yameen’s defeat in the presidential election, SeaLife filed a lawsuit against the state in November 2018.

A five-year project to develop 3,000 housing units and offices was signed between SeaLife Global and the Housing Development Corporation in 2014.

HDC is a state-owned company tasked with the urban development of Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island connected via a bridge to the capital Malé. SeaLife Global is a joint venture between SeaLife Maldives and two Dubai firms.

The developer failed to complete the apartments by the end of 2018 as agreed upon. Contracts with buyers were not signed despite charging booking fees and advance payments in 2017.